Scam: The FBI is offering “ATM Cards” to help victims recover money from Nigerian scammers.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, September 2008]
Federal Bureau Of Investigation ATM CARD PAYMENT NOTIFICATION
From: Federal Bureau Of Investigation (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sent: Mon 9/01/08 9:24 AM
Anti-Terrorist and Monitory Crimes Division.
Federal Bureau Of Investigation.
J. Edgar. Hoover Building, Washington D.C
Telephone Number : ( 202 )-324-3001
This is to Officially inform you that it has come to our notice and we have thoroughly completed an Investigated with the help of our Intelligence Monitoring Network System that you are having an illegal transaction with Impostors claiming to be
So therefore, we have contacted the Federal Ministry Of Finance on your behalf and they have brought a solution to your problem by coordinating your payment in the total amount of $800,000.00 USD which will be deposited into an ATM CARD which you will use to withdraw funds anywhere of the world. You now have the lawful right to claim your funds which have been deposited into the ATM CARD.
Since the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been involved in this transaction, you are now to be rest assured that this transaction is legitimate and completely risk-free as it is our duty to Protect and Serve citizens of the United States Of America. All you have to do is immediately contact the ATM CARD CENTER via
NAME: MR. PAUL SMITH
Telephone Number : +234-808-252-6229
Immediately contact Mr. Paul Smith of the ATM Card Centre with the following information:
Direct Phone Number:
Once you have sent the required information to Mr. Paul Smith he will contact you with instructions on how to make the payment of
Once you have completed payment of $550 to the agent in charge of this transaction, immediately contact me back so as to ensure your ATM CARD gets to you rapidly.
Origins: The message quoted above represents another slightly different turn on the venerable
lure new victims into the scam, it seeks to
The basic premise of the Nigerian Scam is that the target is offered a substantial cash reward for helping out with a transaction involving the transfer of a large sum of money (a transaction that usually needs to be kept hush-hush). However, the transaction never takes place, and the reward is never forthcoming; instead, the target is repeatedly called upon to shell out ever-increasing amounts of his own money to clear away a variety of fictitious roadblocks (e.g., legal fees, documentation fees, customs fees, taxes, bribes). This version of the Nigerian Scam targets those who have already participated in (or been victimized by) it, offering the lure of FBI assistance in recovering the rewards that victims were cheated out of the first time
If the numerous red flags in the basic version of the Nigerian Scam weren’t enough to warn away potential victims, this variant adds several more factors that should give anyone pause about its legitimacy:
- The FBI wouldn’t acknowledge that you have been participating in “illegal transactions” with foreign nationals and then turn around and reward you for having done so. (They’d probably be hauling you off to custody and charging you with a half-dozen federal crimes.)
- The FBI wouldn’t be conducting criminal investigations and doling out hundreds of thousands of dollars via
e-mail.(They’d be sending agents out to meet and talk with you personally.)
- The FBI wouldn’t help fraud victims recover legitimately owed monies and then turn around and charge them several hundred dollars to access those funds.
- The FBI wouldn’t be asking you to contact them by placing a phone call to Nigeria (as indicated by the “234” country code prefix to the phone number provided for
“Mr. PaulSmith of the ATM Card Centre”). You’d be talking to an agent from a local or other U.S.-based FBI office.
- The FBI wouldn’t be collecting sensitive personal information from the public by asking them to provide that information via the extremely unsecure method of
e-mailingit to a Hotmail account. (They wouldn’t be asking for or collecting this kind of information via the Internet in the first place, and even if they were, at the very least they’d be using a secure web protocol with encryption rather than plain-text e-mail,and the collection method would be tied to an FBI web site and not a commercial e-mail provider.)
Last updated: 11 July 2011
Espinoza, Richard and Dan Morgolies. “Latest Net Scam Preys on Honest Folks.” Charleston Gazette. 1 June 2003 (p. D7). Flaum, David. “Scam Hits Sellers Over Net.” The [Memphis] Commercial Appeal. 2 March 2003 (p. G1). Jones, Matthew. “Beach Police Officers Warn of Fake-Check Web Scam.” The Virginian-Pilot. 9 January 2003 (p. B4). Kades, Deborah. “Wisconsin Residents Fall Prey to Used Vehicle, Lottery Scams.” The Wisconsin State Journal. 12 December 2002. Kristof, Kathy M. “Nigerian Money Con Targets Small Firms.” Los Angeles Times. 7 September 2003 ; (p. C3). Associated Press. “Missoula Credit Union Members Taken.” 15 March 2003.