Has someone from Nigeria contacted you for help transferring money out of the country? If so, you are one of the thousands of people around the world, including doctors, lawyers, engineers, and teachers, who have been targeted by what is sometimes called the “Nigerian letter scam” or “Nigerian advance payment fraud.” “. Although “Nigerian” is the name given to it, this scam is international. The letter or email you receive may also claim to come from another country.
Australians are estimated to lose $2.5 million each month to the Nigerian scam!
How the scam works The scam varies, but typically you will receive a letter, or more often, a fax or email offering you a business “proposition” or transaction.
The Nigerian scam typically involves a letter or email from a person abroad claiming to need help transferring a large sum of money. They usually offer to provide a significant portion of that money in exchange for bank account details.
Once you’re on the hook, you’ll be required to pay all sorts of “advance charges” (eg customs, taxes, bribes, legal fees) to facilitate the transfer.
Of course, there is no wealth to transfer and they just use your bank account details to slide your hard-earned money out of your account.
New versions of the notorious Nigerian scam circulating via email The Nigerian scam letter is popping up everywhere with slightly different names and different scams. Regardless of the name used, the position they claim to hold, or the story told, these quick-rich-quick offers are fraudulent and will only result in wasted time and money, and the terrible feeling of knowing you’ve been duped.
Here are some of the recent versions of the Nigerian scam in circulation:
- Request the use of a bank account to deposit a large sum of money. This scam asks the victim to allow them to use their bank account so that a large sum of money can be deposited. Initial contact with the victim is made via a mass-produced email. The money offered may come from a secret bank account, an unexpected inheritance, an overpaid government contract or a ‘forgotten sum of money’ left in a Nigerian bank. In each case, before the money is deposited into the victim’s bank account, a number of fees and charges are required to be paid before the money can be released, e.g. taxes, legal fees, etc. Even though the victim makes numerous payments to people in different countries, there are always delays that prevent the money from being sent and require an additional payment to be made. A key ingredient of this scam is that the victim must keep the money transfer a secret.
- Business opportunity. A company may receive a request from a Nigerian person posing as a government official offering the opportunity to participate in a large business operation taking place in Nigeria. The most common example involves projects in the Nigerian oil industry, although other examples have been identified in the telecommunications industry. The offer will bring great financial benefits and will require the victim to finance a part of the Nigerian contract. All payments will be required to be sent through money transfer agencies such as Western Union in amounts between $5,000.00 and $10,000.00. Examples of requests for money include: legal fees, taxes, money transfer fees, etc. In each case, the money will be required to be sent to numerous people in different countries, such as Benin, Togo, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.
- Online relationship. This scam targets victims, who meet through internet dating sites, chat rooms, or instant messaging services. The scammer may present one of a variety of scenarios including: * Australian citizen in Nigerian hospital – A common scenario begins when the victim chats online with an Australian citizen living in Nigeria. Communication suddenly stops until a ‘Nigerian doctor’ gets in touch and says that his friend has been in a car accident and needs money to pay for urgent surgery. The victim who wants to help her friend starts sending money to Nigeria through a money transfer service like Western Union, and as each amount of money is sent, a new request is made for more funds. * internet romance – With the internet dating scam, the scammer pretends that they want to travel to Australia, but need help paying for airfare, visa fees or a passport. Once these costs have been paid, the scammer asks for more money to pay your local taxes, family hospital bills and other costs. In each case, the scammer claims they have missed their flight to Australia and requests that more money be sent to Nigeria to pay for more airfare. The scammer continues this scam until the victim runs out of money or refuses to send any more to Nigeria.
- Fraudulent check/credit card scam. This scam targets small business owners and people who have been caught up in the internet dating scam. In this example, the scammer requests goods to be shipped to Nigeria and sends a bank check to pay for the goods. The check is usually from a foreign bank and is for an amount greater than the value of the goods and shipping charges. The victim also pays all shipping costs and sends the balance of the funds to the scammer using a money transfer system such as Western Union. When the check is deposited into the victims’ Australian bank account, depending on the quality of the forgery, it may initially be cleared. This gives the victim the assurance that the check is of good value as represented and they purchase the goods and ship them to Nigeria. Several weeks later, the check is identified as fraudulent, and the victim ends up paying the cost of the entire transaction. Credit card scam involves scammers contacting Australian businesses and soliciting the purchase of goods or services. The orders are often significantly higher than what the business would normally receive and appears to be a financial windfall for the business owner.
- Charity scam. The charity scam differs from the other Nigerian scam in that the victims are not looking for anything in return. Scammers search for victims among Church-related websites and chat rooms seeking people to make regular donations to themselves to run a specific charity. The scammer presents himself as a ‘Reverend’ or ‘Pastor’ running an orphanage or church desperately seeking funds. No means of identifying whether the charity actually exists or whether the person seeking the funds is introducing themselves is not provided.
Accommodation providers are regularly asked to provide quotes for Nigerian representatives seeking to attend Queensland for business reasons and wishing to book accommodation and conference facilities. Once the quote is provided, the scammer provides a number of credit cards to make the payment. If a card is not active, alternate credit card numbers are provided. Once the payment is made, the scammer cancels the accommodation and conference and requests a refund of the funds through a money transfer service such as Western Union. Once the company has refunded the money, the credit card company can notify them that the transactions were fraudulent and the company must refund the money.
What can you do?
- Never answer.
- Throw the offer in the trash or delete the email.
- Do not forward them to your friends as they suggest, as it will only create problems for them as well.
- Never provide your bank account number or other personal information to unauthorized persons.
- If you have been caught, or if you find any evidence of Australian involvement in this scam, please contact your state or territory police.
Don’t become the latest victim of these scams
Not only are they illegal, but they can also be life-threatening, as there have been unsubstantiated reports in the past that people with healthy bank accounts were flown first class abroad to meet the scammers, only to be kidnapped on arrival. immediately and held for ransom. .
When the scam is based offshore, it is outside of our jurisdiction, so the Office of Fair Trading cannot investigate or help if it discovers that you have lost your money.
Consumers are also warned to beware of other scams, including bogus donation requests, spoof bank emails, fake lotteries, chain letters, pyramid schemes, envelope stuffing schemes, and bill fraud.
Remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.