Traps in Internet: Nigerian Scam - Be careful of deadly snakes flourishing in cyberspace

The Nigerian Scam has been around for quite some time, but despite many warnings people continue to get attracted towards it. What's more - its no longer based in Nigeria but have proliferated to countries in Western Africa, South Africa, South East Asia and even Europe !!

Even more alarming, the advance fee scam now comes in the disguise of agency agreement, letter of credit, lucrative order and even fake bank drafts. Indications are that the fraud grosses hundreds of millions of dollars annually and the losses are continuing to escalate.

The modus operandi of the original scam is to sell �financial services� with millions of USD from dead ministers, uncles and cousins (10% is for your efforts). The beginning of the scam is an e-mail, fax or letter. The target receives an unsolicited fax, email, or letter from Nigeria (and these days, other countries) containing either a money laundering or other illegal proposal or may even receive a legal and legitimate business proposal by normal means. Common variations of the scam include "over invoiced" or "double invoiced" oil or other supply and service contracts where the scam operators want to get the overage out of their country. The variations are very creative and virtually endless. You will be asked to forward your bank details and office stationery to the contact for preparing the legal documents for money transfer.

For detailed account of how the scam operates - please see an earlier issue of FAIDA (Vol 2, Issue 5; June 27' 2001). You will find all earlier issues of FAIDA at

The purpose of this article is to warn exporters of such scam operators who are out to lure you with lucrative offers / easy money. In addition to original Nigerian scam of so called 'Financial service' - nowadays it could even be an export order on d/a, agency offer, diamond sale, gold ornament import etc. etc. Please exercise your judgment before making any payment.

These scam artists have perfected the art of delusion. He may establish the credibility of his contacts, and thereby his influence, by arranging a meeting between the victim and "government officials" in real or fake government offices. You may be reassured of the authenticity of the arrangement by forged or false documents bearing apparently official Nigerian government letterhead, seals, as well as false letters of credit, payment schedules and bank drafts.

Some indications of the scam:

  1. An unsolicited mail that tries to delude you into thinking that you have been singled out to participate in a very lucrative arrangement.
  2. Big money, running into millions of US Dollars
  3. Easy money - you stand to gain enormous amount for few easy simple tasks.
  4. An element of secrecy
  5. An element of rush - transaction needs to be closed fast.
  6. Advance payments on your part for bribing officials, paying advance tax or simply agent's fee.
  7. An invitation to visit the country (extremely dangerous - people have lost their lives by doing so. Please see details in earlier Faida article).

The good news is that hundreds of organizations from all around the world have joined hands to fight this menace. All you need is an awareness and alertness to successfully fight these scamsters.

Links to Websites Fighting the Nigerian Scam

Related Links:

Source: FAIDA - Newsletter on Business Opportunties from India and Abroad Vol: 2, Issue 39 March 7' 2002

Author : Dr. Amit K. Chatterjee
(Amit worked in blue-chip Indian and MNCs for 15 years in various capacities like Research and Information Analysis, Market Development, MIS, R&D Information Systems etc. before starting his e-commerce venture in 1997. The views expressed in this columns are of his own. He may be reached at )

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