FIRST, I MUST SOLICIT YOUR STRICTEST CONFIDENCE IN THIS TRANSACTION. THIS IS BY VIRTUE OF ITS NATURE AS BEING UTTERLY CONFIDENTIAL AND 'TOP SECRET'. I AM SURE AND HAVE CONFIDENCE OF YOUR ABILITY AND RELIABILITY TO PROSECUTE A TRANSACTION OF THIS GREAT MAGNITUDE INVOLVING A PENDING TRANSACTION REQUIRING MAXIIMUM CONFIDENCE.
WE ARE TOP OFFICIAL OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CONTRACT REVIEW PANEL WHO ARE INTERESTED IN IMPORATION OF GOODS INTO OUR COUNTRY WITH FUNDS WHICH ARE PRESENTLY TRAPPED IN NIGERIA. IN ORDER TO COMMENCE THIS BUSINESS WE SOLICIT YOUR ASSISTANCE TO ENABLE US TRANSFER INTO YOUR ACCOUNT THE SAID TRAPPED FUNDS.
THE SOURCE OF THIS FUND IS AS FOLLOWS; DURING THE LAST MILITARY REGIME HERE IN NIGERIA, THE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS SET UP COMPANIES AND AWARDED THEMSELVES CONTRACTS WHICH WERE GROSSLY OVER-INVOICED IN VARIOUS MINISTRIES. THE PRESENT CIVILIAN GOVERNMENT SET UP A CONTRACT REVIEW PANEL AND WE HAVE IDENTIFIED A LOT OF INFLATED CONTRACT FUNDS WHICH ARE PRESENTLY FLOATING IN THE CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA READY FOR PAYMENT.
HOWEVER, BY VIRTUE OF OUR POSITION AS CIVIL SERVANTS AND MEMBERS OF THIS PANEL, WE CANNOT ACQUIRE THIS MONEY IN OUR NAMES. I HAVE THEREFORE, BEEN DELEGATED AS A MATTER OF TRUST BY MY COLLEAGUES OF THE PANEL TO LOOK FOR AN OVERSEAS PARTNER INTO WHOSE ACCOUNT WE WOULD TRANSFER THE SUM OF US$21,320,000.00(TWENTY ONE MILLION, THREE HUNDRED AND TWENTY THOUSAND U.S DOLLARS). HENCE WE ARE WRITING YOU THIS LETTER. WE HAVE AGREED TO SHARE THE MONEY THUS; 1. 20% FOR THE ACCOUNT OWNER 2. 70% FOR US (THE OFFICIALS) 3. 10% TO BE USED IN SETTLING TAXATION AND ALL LOCAL AND FOREIGN EXPENSES. IT IS FROM THE 70% THAT WE WISH TO COMMENCE THE IMPORTATION BUSINESS.
PLEASE,NOTE THAT THIS TRANSACTION IS 100% SAFE AND WE HOPE TO COMMENCE THE TRANSFER LATEST SEVEN (7) BANKING DAYS FROM THE DATE OF THE RECEIPT OF THE FOLLOWING INFORMATIOM BY TEL/FAX; 234-1-7740449, YOUR COMPANY'S SIGNED, AND STAMPED LETTERHEAD PAPER THE ABOVE INFORMATION WILL ENABLE US WRITE LETTERS OF CLAIM AND JOB DESCRIPTION RESPECTIVELY. THIS WAY WE WILL USE YOUR COMPANY'S NAME TO APPLY FOR PAYMENT AND
WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO DOING THIS BUSINESS WITH YOU AND SOLICIT YOUR CONFIDENTIALITY IN THIS TRANSATION. PLEASE ACKNOWLEDGE THE RECEIPT OF THIS LETTER USING THE ABOVE TEL/FAX NUMBERS. I WILL SEND YOU DETAILED INFORMATION OF THIS PENDING PROJECT WHEN I HAVE HEARD FROM YOU.
DR CLEMENT OKON
NOTE; PLEASE QUOTE THIS REFERENCE NUMBER (VE/S/09/99) IN ALL YOUR RESPONSES.
Origins: Even as you read this, the world famous Nigerian Scam (also known as a "4-1-9" or "Advance Fee Fraud" scheme) is parting yet more of the 'something for nothing' crowd from their money.
Here's how it works: Letters (or, nowadays,
If you're not saying "scam" by now, you should be. Should you agree to participate in this international bail-out, something will go wrong. Paperwork will be delayed. Questions will be asked. Officials will need to be bribed. Money from
In a nutshell, the con works by blinding the victim with promises of an unimaginable fortune. Once the sucker is sufficiently glittery-eyed over the prospect of becoming fabulously rich, he is squeezed for however much money he has. This he parts with willingly, thinking "What's $5,000 here or $10,000 there when I'm going to end up with
In another form taken by the Nigerian scam, a church or religious organization is contacted by a wealthy foreigner who says he desires nothing more than to leave his considerable fortune to that particular group. Maybe he says he's led a life of sin and is now trying to make good, or maybe he claims that as a devout Christian he heard about their good works and wants to leave his money to help continue them, but whatever the backstory, it's just a tale. Once again, there will be delays, each of them necessitating the "beneficiary" to spend a few thousand here and a few thousand there in an effort to collect money that never materializes.
In a 2002 version of the con, the victim is informed he has just won an important prize in a foreign lottery he doesn't remember entering. Only when he tries to collect the money is he approached for payment of facilitation fees to get his winnings to him. It's the same con, with just a few elements unimportant to the execution of the thievery changed about.
The scam is known as the Nigerian scam, but many countries are routinely named as the homelands the appeals originate from. Likewise, the backstory, the tale that supposedly explains how these people came into possession of this incredible sum and why they now need help getting it out of wherever, changes from one
Once the scam is explained, it seems so obvious a con that you'd wonder who would fall for it. Yet fall for it people do because they're mesmerized by the wealth that will soon be theirs. They also fail to realize there's a hook hanging just out of sight; at first all they see is that someone wants to give them something, thus they're ill-prepared to mentally shift gears when that person turns the tables. Because the premise of "I'm going to get millions of dollars" is wholeheartedly swallowed early on, it's not at a later point questioned when things begin to go wrong with the transaction and the dupes who have been targeted are asked to dig up some funds to help move things along.
The Nigerian scam is hugely successful. According to a 1997 newspaper article:
Wrong. Very, very wrong.
The Nigerian Scam has been emptying the pockets of victims for
These days it's trapped funds not errant sons of well-to-do families that are the objects of these global wild goose chases, but the con is the same. The undisputed headquarters of the scam is Nigeria, with some of the cons progressing so far as to have the victims fly to that country to meet with the "officials" they are purportedly assisting. Things got so out of hand, in fact, that in 1991 the Nigerian government felt compelled to issue a statement disavowing its participation in this scheme:
The elaborate fraud involves fake official approval to transfer up to
A CBN statement warned foreign companies and businessmen not to fall for the confidence trick, saying that the bank had been surprised and embarrassed by enquiries relating to the fraud. "The bank has no knowledge or record whatsoever of the purported claims or transfers, or even the related alleged contracts," it said.
The letters ask UK firms to assist in the transfer of funds from Nigeria to Britain — by sending signed headed paper, invoices and bank account details — in return for a cut of the sum transferred. Instead of transferring sums, the UK firm's money is removed by the fraudsters. Scotland Yard says that some companies have lost thousands of pounds in this way. About
Salon.com editor Douglas Cruickshank also penned "I crave your distinguished indulgence (and all your cash)," a wonderful
The Secret Service asks if you have been victimized by the Nigerian scam to forward appropriate written documentation to the United States Secret Service, Financial Crimes Division,
However, it needs to be pointed out there is only so much the Secret Service or any law enforcement agency can do if the perpetrators of the scam are not within their jurisdiction. Your local police department cannot send officers to Nigeria to arrest the fellows who are attempting to con you out of your life savings any more than Nigerian police could show up on your doorstep to put the handcuffs on you.
Folks angered by Nigerian scam
Barbara "fraud gods" Mikkelson
Last updated: 1 February 2010
Collins, Jeff. "Beware a Nigerian Postmark." The Orange County Register. 24 May 1997 (p. B1). Fagan, Mary. "August Is a Wicked Month for Fraud." The Independent. 16 August 1991 (p. 23). Moore, Ronnie. "Officials Issue Warning of Nigeria Money Scam." Chattanooga Free Press. 26 March 1997 (p. B3). Sullivan, Brian. "Nigeria Launches Web Site to Target E-mail Scams." Computerworld. 26 March 2002. Omaha World Herald. "Nigerian Letter Sent to U.S. Sets Up Scam." 4 October 1996 (p. 41). The Reuter Library Report. "Nigeria Says Millions of Dollars Extorted From Foreigners." 5 September 1991.