People STILL to this day fall for these scams despite the publicity they have received. These scams inevitably start with an email or even a phone call that detail some bizarre situation such as a prince’s son who is defecting from a country and needs to transfer his vast sum of money to you in order to “cover” his tracks.
People believe that somehow they were chosen and become entangled in a mess that usually starts with a small wire transfer of some type of fee required to release the money and ends with the scammer moving on to the next victim after they have cleaned out your bank account and life’s savings.
The most common way they take your money is by having you send bank checks or wire money via Western Union. One you send the initial fee and your “sucker” status has been validated the story gets more and more complex. Money gets stuck in accounts which require additional fees, money is needed to pay bribes, mommy needs a new dress, and daddy needs new shoes. The point is, no matter HOW much money you send these people they will come back with a reason why they can't transfer you the money and a reason why you need to pay ONE LAST FINAL fee; we swear, cross our heart, hope to die, stick a needle in our eye. Guess what? No money; and when you run out of money the contacts with your scammer will suddenly cease, and you will be left holding the “empty bag”.
Below is a typical example of a 419 Scam email:
“FROM: Dr Altaka Yurmani
Central Bank of Nigeria
I have been requested by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company to contact you for assistance in resolving a matter. The Nigerian National Petroleum Company has recently concluded a large number of contracts for oil exploration in the sub-Sahara region. The contracts have immediately produced moneys equaling US$40,000,000. The Nigerian National Petroleum Company is desirous of oil exploration in other parts of the world, however, because of certain regulations of the Nigerian Government, it is unable to move these funds to another region.
Your assistance is requested as a non-Nigerian citizen to assist the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, and also the Central Bank of Nigeria, in moving these funds out of Nigeria. If the funds can be transferred to your name, in your United States account, then you can forward the funds as directed by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company. In exchange for your accommodating services, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company would agree to allow you to retain 10%, or US$4 million of this amount.
However, to be a legitimate transferee of these moneys according to Nigerian law, you must presently be a depositor of at least US$100,000 in a Nigerian bank which is regulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
If it will be possible for you to assist us, we would be most grateful. We suggest that you meet with us in person in Lagos, and that during your visit I introduce you to the representatives of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, as well as with certain officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Please call me at your earliest convenience at 18-467-4975. Time is of the essence in this matter; very quickly the Nigerian Government will realize that the Central Bank is maintaining this amount on deposit, and attempt to levy certain depository taxes on it.
Prince Alyusi Islassis”
My advice to you is if you get an email like this…DELETE IT…once again, you are not James Bond, and this isn’t your lucky day…DELETE THE EMAIL.
There are thousands of variations of these types of scams some including lottery winners and even our buddy Bill Gates from Microsoft. They all result in the same thing…FRAUD and a lighter wallet for those who are gullible enough to fall for it. Unfortunately, most of the victims who fall for this are elderly folks. If you have elderly neighbors, grandparents or friends…PLEASE tell them about these scams. Tell them never to send money to strangers who make outrageous claims or promises. There is NO POT OF GOLD at the end of the rainbow, only emotional pain and anguish.
If someone wants you to send them money for you to get money in return…99.9% of the time it is a scam, plain and simple. Never send money to strangers and you will never get burned in this way.
I personally ignore this type of stuff but if you need to report a crime like this or you have a loved one wrapped up in a scam like this, you can report the crime to the authorities. Below is a link for reporting instructions for various countries:
419 Coalition Website
You can also report the crime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
I hate to make people skeptical, but a healthy dose of skepticism will protect you and if something “feels” wrong or illegal…that is your instincts telling you something…LISTEN TO THEM…they are right most of the time.
...that is all.