Not a day goes by that I don't receive an email notifying me that I have one a lottery, sweepstakes, or that I have an opportunity to help a descendant of an important person who has been murdered. Most of these are all a form of the infamous "Nigerian Letter" or "419" fraud email scams. I encourage you to be vigilant and take caution, because these criminals would not be sending these emails if they were not working. As I was researching information for this blog post I came across a very sad story of a young Chinese girl that committed suicide because she fell victim to one of these scams BBC Story
. This just goes to show you that there are actually people stillfalling for these scams everyday.
The "Nigerian Letter" ruse is primarily carried out through email, but can also come via facsimile or actual letters. More than likely most of you reading this will be contacted or have been contacted by the "Nigerian Letter" scammers through email. The policy you should stick to when you come across an email that appears to be "too good to be true" is to realize it is a scam. The main premise behind the "Nigerian Letter" scam is the promise of a windfall of money if you (the receiver) of the email first send money to the scammers. Most of you probably think that will never happen to me. Guess what it is happening to people just like the young Chinese girl who committed suicide after giving 6000 English pounds to scammers.
The "Nigerian Letter" scammers are not rocket scientists, but have a good thing going. These scammers have been around since 1588 where letters were written stating to be from a prisoner trapped in a Spanish castle (you know the rest). Why stop a good thing when it has been working for so long. This scam is not complex. It is very surprising that people trust a simple email from an unknown individual and soon are sending money to the same individuals. The reason "greed" and "greed" alone. The big promise is if I (the letter receiver) send a little money, I will somehow get a huge amount of money in return for doing absolutely nothing. Thing is the "Nigerian" scammers are the one's getting rich.
Below are some tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of the "Nigerian Letter" or "419 Fraud" and authorities you can report these incidents to if solicited.
If you receive a letter from Nigeria asking you to send personal or banking information, do not reply in any manner. Send the letter to the U.S. Secret Service, your local FBI office,
or the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. You can also register a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel.
If you know someone who is corresponding in one of these schemes, encourage that person to contact the FBI or the U.S. Secret Service as soon as possible. Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as Nigerian or foreign government officials asking for your help in placing large sums of money in overseas bank accounts. Do not believe the promise of large sums of money for your cooperation.
Guard your account information carefully.