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Scam Bait - the Nigerian Scam

Don't let greed get you scammed
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You just received an urgent email from the wife of the recently deceased Nigerian head of state. It seems that The former Nigerian leader's family is being harassed and denied access to the last of the family funds. She is desperately seeking someone outside of the country to help secure this $38 million dollar fund. If you are willing to help, she will reward you with a substantial portion of the $38 million dollars.

If you are a wise and experienced Internet user, you will immediately realize that this is a scam. These people send thousands and thousands of emails looking for that one sucker who has more greed than common sense. I personally receive several Nigerian scam messages a week -- sometimes several a day.

This scam has become a big business in Nigeria and a number of other small nations. Apparently, they find enough people who fall for the scams to keep them going. So what is the Nigerian scam and what do the scammers hope to gain?

The Nigerian scam or 419 scam (419 is the Nigerian legal code that outlaws the scam) as it is often called has been around from long before the prevalence of Internet access. The scam letters were formerly sent by postal mail or fax, but as Internet spammers have learned, email costs almost nothing to send in bulk. The Nigerian scam has one or more of the following goals:

  • Bilking: Once a scammer has the victim interested, they will start asking for cash to cover various fees supposedly needed to acquire the millions of dollars. Many people have shelled out thousands of dollars before realizing something was amiss.

  • Extortion: The scammers will attempt to get the victim to travel to Nigeria and will often convince them that they don't need a visa. The scammers will bribe customs officials and get the victim into the country illegally. When the victim tries to leave, the scammers will ask for large sums of money to get them out without legal problems.

  • Ransom: The Nigerian scammers may kidnap and hold the victim for ransom.

It should be obvious that these are dangerous people. You should never respond to them in any way. Getting stuff for free is great, but the kind of greed that deludes people into believing they will get a handsome reward for doing practically nothing is dangerous and stupid. It is much better to be smart and stay safe.

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