Thursday, June 26, 2014


The following is a repeat from several years ago. It came to mind just recently when a client of mine asked me if an email they received about this exact same thing was really true. This scam is so old and widespread that it’s hard to imagine everyone hasn’t heard of it but I guess P.T. Barnum knew what he was talking about.

Q:  I have been communicating with a person named Charles Soludo from Nigeria.  He needs some help from me to get his money.  How do I find out if it is real or not?  I have come to a stage where he is requesting I send $2500 for "Transfer Fee" and his tone is very arrogant too. - Name Withheld
The good news is that “Charles Soludo” actually is a Nigerian economics professor and currently serves on the board of directors of the Central Bank of Nigeria. The bad news is that he doesn’t have time to talk to little ol’ you. Criminals use his name to add credibility to their scam. You are describing a classic “Nigerian Scam” or “advance-fee fraud.” According to the United States Secret Service, the con has pulled in more than $5 billion and is one of the largest industries in Nigeria.
The advance-fee fraud actually dates back to at least 1588. Back then, it was called the “Spanish Prisoner Letter.” In this scam, a “rich businessman” who was falsely imprisoned by the Spanish King promised the recipient large sums of money if the recipient would send him some bribe money to get out of jail. To sweeten the deal, the prisoner promised to hand over his beautiful daughter in marriage. After the initial money is paid, some “difficulties” arise that require a few more dollars. This goes on until the scam-ee is cleaned out and the game ends.
The Nigerian scam works similarly except the Spanish Prisoner has morphed into a member of the Nigerian royalty. Billions of emails are sent from Nigeria yearly and many people fall prey to the scammers. A few lucky victims are invited to Nigeria and get to meet “real” government officials. Upon their arrival, the victims are often kidnapped, extorted, held for ransom and sometimes murdered. Nigerian legal officials don’t have much sympathy for the victims. The victims, after all, intended to defraud the Nigerian government of tens of million of dollars.

So, these scams are serious business and are becoming ever more popular as more and more suckers -- I mean “new users” -- are introduced to email. The Nigerians evidently plan to spam everyone on earth in hopes of enticing a few people into participating. So, if you haven’t received a scam solicitation, you probably will.
Remember what your momma said about sounding too good to be true? I mean, seriously, do you really think a member of royalty would need help from anyone in North Alabama? It ain’t going to happen. Not now, not ever.

No comments: