Nigerian Scams – New versions of the notorious Nigerian scam are spreading

Nigerian Scams – New versions of the notorious Nigerian scam are spreading

Has anyone from Nigeria contacted you asking for your help in transferring money out of the country? If so, then you are one of the thousands of people around the world including doctors, lawyers, engineers and professors who have been targeted by what is sometimes called the “Nigerian letter scam” or “Nigerian advance fee scam”. Although “Nigerian” is the name given to this scam, it is international. The letter or email you receive may also pretend to come from another country.

It is estimated that Australians lose $2.5 million every month to the Nigerian scam!

How the scam works A scam is different, but you’ll usually receive a letter, or more often a fax or email, offering you a business “offer” or deal.

A Nigerian scam usually 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 this money in exchange for bank account details

Once you’re hooked, you’ll be asked to pay any “upfront fees” (eg duties, 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 withdraw your hard earned money from your account.

New versions of the notorious Nigerian scam are circulating via email The Nigerian scam letter appears all over the place using slightly different names and different scam stories. No matter what name is used, the position they say they have, or what story is being spun, these get-rich-quick offers are scams and will only result in wasted time and money and the awful feeling of knowing you’ve been scammed.

Below we have listed some of the latest versions of the Nigerian scam in circulation:

  1. Request to use a bank account to deposit a large amount of money. This scam requires the victim to allow them to use their bank account so that a large amount of money can be deposited. Initial contact with the victim is via mass email. The money offered could be from a secret bank account, an unexpected inheritance, an overpaid government contract or a “forgotten sum of money” left in a Nigerian bank. In any case, before the money is deposited into the victims’ bank account, a number of fees and charges must be paid before the money is released, e.g. taxes, legal fees, etc. Although the victim makes numerous payments to individuals in different countries, there are always delays that prevent the money from being sent and require additional payment. A key ingredient of this scam is that the victim must keep the money transfer secret.
  2. Business opportunity. A business may receive a request from a Nigerian person posing as a government official offering the opportunity to be involved in a major commercial operation being undertaken 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 involve very large financial gains and will require the victim to finance part of the Nigerian contract. All payments will need to be forwarded through money transfer agencies such as Western Union in amounts between $5,000.00 and $10,000.00. Examples of money requests include: legal fees, taxes, money order fees, etc. In any case, the money will be required to be sent to multiple individuals in different countries such as Benin, Togo, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.
  3. Online connection. 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 contact is made from a “Nigerian doctor” who says a friend of theirs has been in a car accident and needs money to pay for emergency surgery. A victim who wants to help a friend starts sending money to Nigeria through a money transfer facility like Western Union and with each remittance an additional request is made for more funds. * Internet romance – With the internet dating scam, the scammer claims he wants to travel to Australia but needs help paying for plane tickets, visa fees or a passport. Once these expenses are paid, the scammer asks for more money to pay their local taxes, family hospital bills and other expenses. In each case, the fraudster claims to have missed his flight to Australia and wants more money to be sent to Nigeria to pay for additional plane tickets. The scammer continues this scam until the victim runs out of money or refuses to send more to Nigeria.
  4. Check/Credit Card Fraud. This scam targets small business owners and individuals who have been caught in an internet dating scam. In this example, the fraudster wants the goods shipped to him in Nigeria and sends a banker’s check to pay for the goods. The check is usually from a foreign bank and is for an amount in excess of the value of the goods and the cost of forwarding. The victim also pays all shipping fees and sends the rest of the funds to the scammer using a money transfer system like Western Union. When the check is deposited into the victims bank account in Australia, depending on the quality of the forgery, it may initially clear. This gives the victim confidence that the check is of good value as presented and they buy the goods and ship them to Nigeria. A few weeks later, the check is identified as fraudulent and the victim ends up paying for the entire transaction. Credit card fraud involves fraudsters contacting Australian businesses and asking for the purchase of goods or services. The orders are often significantly higher than what the business would normally receive and appear to represent a financial windfall for the business owner.
  5. Accommodation providers are regularly asked to provide quotes for Nigerian representatives who wish to visit Queensland for business reasons and wish to book accommodation and conference facilities. Once the offer is submitted, the scammer provides a series of credit cards from which to make the payment. If a card is not active, then alternate credit card numbers are provided. Once payment is made, the scammer cancels the accommodation and conference and requests a refund via a money transfer service such as Western Union. After the business refunds the money, it can be notified by the credit card company that the transactions were fraudulent and the business must refund the money.

  6. Charity scam. The charity scam differs from other Nigerian scams because the victims are not looking for anything in return. Scammers look for victims on Church-related websites and chat rooms looking for people to make regular donations for themselves to run a particular charity. The scammer poses as a “reverend” or “pastor” who runs an orphanage or church and is desperate for funds. No funds have been provided to establish whether the charity actually exists or whether the person seeking the funds is who they claim to be.

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 you will only cause problems for them too.
  • Never give your bank account number or other personal information to unauthorized people.
  • If you are caught or come across any evidence of Australian involvement in this scam, contact your state or territory police.

Don’t become another victim of these scams

Not only are they illegal, but they can be life-threatening, as there have been unsubstantiated reports in the past of people with healthy bank accounts being flown overseas first class to meet the scammers, only to be immediately kidnapped and held for ransom.

When the fraud is based overseas it is outside our jurisdiction so the Office of Fair Trading cannot investigate or help if you find you have lost your money.

Users are also warned to beware of other scams, including fake donation solicitations, fake bank emails, fake sweepstakes, chain letters, pyramid schemes, envelope stuffing schemes and invoice scams.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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