No, a Nigerian Prince does not want to give you money.
This is an example of the Nigerian letter scam and it comes in many forms. The Nigerian letter or email scam is very common and typically requires the victim to send money to the scammer and, in turn, the scammer will reimburse them several times over.
A common example is an email from a representative of a Nigerian prince who needs to transfer $40 million obtained from an oil contract but cannot use an African bank account and therefore needs your assistance. They will want to use your personal bank account, but first, you need to open a Nigerian bank account with at least $100,000 in it to be a qualified foreign recipient of the funds. The prince’s representatives will provide information as to where you will send the money and promise you they will transfer your millions right after. Another example is that you are the winner of a foreign country’s lottery (somehow!) and if you send personal identification information and documents plus a small fee, you will receive your millions of dollars in lottery winnings. Of course, this never happens.
While there are many different ways these fake stories are formulated, they all follow the same basic principle. You send us money, and then we will send you much more. Any time you see this formula you should immediately suspect foul play. These Nigerian letters or email scams used to be very easy to identify because the emails looked very unofficial and there were so many spelling and grammar mistakes that it couldn’t possibly be from a legitimate organization handling millions of dollars. Nowadays they are much harder to detect because the scammers have been putting more effort into creating more realistic and convincing emails that include a business or bank logo, correct grammar and spelling, and sometimes fake websites to look more official and authentic.
The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) 2012 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book compiles complaints received by the FTC, various state law enforcement organizations, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. In the 2012 report, 7,782 complaints were filed under the category of Nigerian/Other Foreign Money Offers (not including prizes) down from 16,405 in 2010. Therefore, people may have become more aware of these scams, but the scammers are working every day to make their scams more and more believable. Be on the lookout for these scams and always remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Should you fall victim to this scam you should immediately report it to:
- The Federal Trade Commission
- The U.S. Postal Inspection Service if you received the scam by mail.
- The Internet Crime Complaint Center or IC3 if you received the scam by email.
- The U.S. Secret Service – call your local field office.
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