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Nigerian Scam Continues to Rip Off Millions

Advance-Fee Solicitations Are Scams

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The Nigerian advance-fee fraud has been around for decades, but now seems to have reached epidemic proportions via the Internet, and many compassionate consumers are continuing to take the bait.

With the Nigerian scam having been exposed as a fraud for many years and hundreds have reported being ripped off by the perpetrators, one would wonder why these frauds would continue to send out these proposals in the mail and via the Internet by the hundreds of thousands.

The answer is simple. They are still finding easy targets out there, or they would not be doing it. Apparently, many people are still taken in by the sad stories the letters tell, the unfailingly polite language used in the letters and the promises of big money.

How It Works

According to the Federal Trade Commission, this is how the scam works:

Claiming to be Nigerian officials, businesspeople or the surviving spouses of former government honchos, con artists offer to transfer millions of dollars into your bank account in exchange for a small fee. If you respond to the initial offer, you may receive "official looking" documents.

Typically, you're then asked to provide blank letterhead and your bank account numbers, as well as some money to cover transaction and transfer costs and attorney's fees.

No Profits to Share

You may even be encouraged to travel to Nigeria or a border country to complete the transaction. Sometimes, the fraudsters will produce trunks of dyed or stamped money to verify their claims.

Inevitably, though, emergencies come up, requiring more of your money and delaying the "transfer" of funds to your account; in the end, there aren't any profits for you to share, and the scam artist has vanished with your money.

If You Receive an Offer

If you're tempted to respond to an offer, the FTC suggests you "stop and ask yourself two important questions: Why would a perfect stranger pick you - also a perfect stranger - to share a fortune with, and why would you share your personal or business information, including your bank account numbers or your company letterhead, with someone you don't know?"

The U.S. Department of State cautions everyone against traveling to the destination mentioned in the letters. According to State Department reports, people who have responded to these "advance-fee" solicitations have been beaten, subjected to threats and extortion, and in some cases, murdered.

Email the FTC

If you receive an offer via email from someone claiming to need your help getting money out of Nigeria - or any other country, for that matter, forward it to the FTC at the email address: uce@ftc.gov

If you have lost money to one of these schemes, call your local Secret Service field office. You also can call 202-406-5572 for information.

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