Saturday, October 25, 2003

The “Nigerian Scam”

These days I find myself, and I suspect that I am not alone, on the receiving end of a deluge of emails from a variety of individuals; purporting to be deposed presidents, royalty and businessmen residing in various parts of Africa (more often than not Nigeria).

The content of these letters (colloquially known as the “Nigerian Scam”) follows a familiar format:

 Your name has been recommended by a reputable source.

 They have a large sum of money, usually exceeding $20M, which they wish to export from their country.

 They would like an “honest” person to conduct business with.

 They require temporary use of a bank account to facilitate that transfer.

 They offer a high percentage in return for this facility, usually 20% of the capital sum involved.

 All they need are the details of your bank account, phone number and a few other personal pieces of information.

 Contact details are provided, where a “real” person will interact with you.

In case you have not realised it, this is a scam. The perpetrators having duped the greedy and stupid into revealing details of their bank account etc, then empty it; and disappear with the proceedings.

Now, you would think that this was so obviously a scam; that no one would be taken in by it. However, regrettably this is not so; in my experience of fraud investigation you should never underestimate the stupidity, arrogance and greed of your fellow human beings.

The scammers manage to con, a not insignificant percentage of, the stupid and greedy out of some quite sizeable amounts of money. Indeed, such is the success (a testament to the “human condition”), that the number of these letters is on the increase. I find that I now receive more of these emails, than those offering penis enlargement and the more bizarre forms of sexual gratification.

The people who perpetrate this crime are, to use a technical term, scum. The criminal enforcement agencies around the world are doing their best to track them down, but as long as there are stupid and greedy people prepared to open up their bank accounts to these “Hucksters”; there will always be some form of “Nigerian letter”.

I therefore would like to present my “Worse Than Worthless” award to the perpetrators of the “Nigerian Scam”.

I have now started to keep a log of the letters I receive from these people, which shows the variety of ludicrous stories that are used to extract money from the greedy and stupid. The log can be accessed on the Stupid Punts section of my site.

I have edited out the email and phone contact details of the senders of these letters, to protect the stupid.

I would take this opportunity to remind all of you, that before taking any financial investment decision; you should consult a reputable independent financial adviser and lawyer.

Remember if it sounds too good to be true, then it is!

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