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Who Wants to Make a High School Boy a Millionaire?
The Nigerian scam affects not only the westerner who gets scammed, but also honest Nigerians who are in search of legitimate work. I have come across work at home jobs that exclude Nigeria from taking part. Clickbank does not accept Nigeria into their programs. PayPal does not allow people to open accounts from Nigeria). When I make inquiries, telling these online programs who I am and where I live, I don’t get any response from them.
What Kinds of Scams Do They Pull?
Here are some products from the Nigerian scam industry:
The Fake Money Order Scam
Back in 2004 in my university days, this scam was the most popular among scammers on campus. The scammer surfs the Internet looking for a date. Depending on the gender of the person he comes across, he poses either as a male or female. For example, if he meets a white or black female, then he’s a white or black male as the case may be, or if meets a white or black male, then the scammer is a white or black female, and the dating begins. The scammer could be chatting with more than one person at the same time to speed up his chances of getting at least one of them to fall for his scam. In one chat box, he might be a white girl, in another chat box, he’s a white male, and still in another, he’s an African American lady.
The stories the scammer tells his dates are the same especially if they happen to be chatting with a white male. He tells his dates that he’s a white lady visiting Africa for the first time on some archaeological expedition, to visit the ruins of ancient Africa and that ‘she’ is a student of UCLA for example, or any other story the scammer can come up with. The dating may last for days, weeks or even months but the main idea is to get the white guy to fall in love with ‘her’. That’s when the real scam kicks in.
The scammer, when he is sure the white guy has fallen in love with him, comes up with a sad story, telling the guy of something bad that happened to ‘her’ while ‘she’ was on the expedition. Now ‘she’ cant return to the U.S., but ‘she’ came to Africa with some money orders and would like the guy to help ‘her’ cash them and send the money back to ‘her’ so ‘she’ can be able to return home.
An ex-course mate of mine after getting this white guy to say “I love u”, told this guy living in the U.S. that ‘she’ was robbed in her hotel room in Africa and was left with nothing. But wait, the robbers didn’t take her money orders. Could he please cash the money orders for ‘her’ and send the cash back to ‘her’ so ‘she’ can return to the U.S.?
“Why, sure thing!” The white date replied. Why would he allow his ‘beloved’ whom he’s just dying to meet to be stranded in Africa? And so the scammer sent the money orders to him. Another former course mate of mine told me that for this scam to work, the guy would have to take the money orders to the bank and not to the post office. If they are cashed at the bank, the bank in turn will take the money orders to the post office to be cashed. There, they would be detected as fakes and the person who cashed them at the bank arrested. I heard the guy was arrested. He tried to make contact with his ‘beloved’ but it was too late. The scammer scrapped his e-mail address, bought a benze and took friends out for drink to celebrate his success.
The deftness with which these people use information on the net to fool people is impressive. Another ex-course mate of mine pretended to be a girl living in Cuba. After growing irritated and tired of his date asking about the area in Cuba ‘she’ comes from, he simply Googled cities in Cuba and told his date ‘she’ was from Santa Clara!
The Credit Card Scam
Only recently, I saw a credit card for the first time in my life. They are not common the way they are in your country. Before then, though I had never seen them, except in movies, I came to be more knowledgeable about them through this same ex-course mate of mine who received hundreds of them from a hacker friend of his. So many were these credit cards that my friend never had enough time to sift through all of them and check their validity.
He copied the details of each credit card one by one, pasted it on a certain site and tried to make a purchase. If the purchase went through, he would then know the credit card was valid and separated them from the rest. If it didn’t go through he simply deleted the expired or invalid credit card.
Night after night, after I was through studying, we would go the café for some ‘Internet shopping’ and to chat with his ‘dates’ before finally retiring to the hostel.
Back then, I also learnt that most companies do not send items paid for with a credit card to a Nigerian address for obvious reasons. So what my friend did was to give these sites a western address. He has a partner over there who would then send the items to Nigeria. He told me that if he were to sell all he had been ordering at a give away price he would make no less than $25,000.
The Nonexistent Product Scam
“….we are a company looking for distributors and sales agents for our polymeric polyol product. Interested persons should please reply via this mail…..” What you have just read are the lines to a scam invented by this same ex course mate of mine. I call this the non existent product scam. He simply looks for distributors and sales agent telling them his company has a product to sell. He gives them a very large figure of the commission they will make as a way of motivating these distributors and sales agents to get buyers, If these distributors and agents find buyers, they are to pay half the price of the product before receiving the product, and the other half after they receive the product. The buyers pay this advance and ZILCH! ZERO! No product is forthcoming because there was none to begin with!
“What the hell is a polymeric polyol? It won’t work,” I told him. He would only receive replies asking what a polymeric polyol was. He told me I was only being cynical. He was right. He got a sales agent and almost made money from this scam.
The Dating or e-Begging Scam
Are you a westerner searching for love across the Atlantic? You happen to succeed in finding one, and you think you are chatting with an African chick? Think again! You might just be dating a Nigerian hustler who is just waiting for you to say “I love you” so ‘she’ can start making financial demands on you.
Like the fake money order scam, this involves posing as a female. Only here, ‘she’ is not a westerner, but a Nigerian girl. Sometimes, the scammer might send the westerner a picture of the girl he is pretending to be, (even when the westerner didn’t ask for one) just to make it all look real. When the scammer is sure you have really gotten to like ‘her’, it is now time to start asking for money. And would he refuse to send a couple of thousand bucks to the ‘girl’ he loves, who is struggling to make ends meet in a harsh economic environment?
Some westerners might be eager to see their dates through a webcam. “Now the scammer is in for it” you might say. Unfortunately, this is not a problem for the scammer as they are equally prepared for this and can go as far as recruiting their own girlfriends into the scam. “At last” the westerner thinks. He can see his African date through the webcam. What he will not see is the real mastermind behind the scam, sitting right next to the girl, but just out of sight of the webcam, telling the girl what to type on the computer. Finally the chatting ends on a happy note and the westerner goes to bed, satisfied to have seen his Nigerian girlfriend. Poor westerner doesn’t know he is dating a man like himself.
The other side to this kind of scam is much easier: I am a Nigerian man. I browse online dating sites and find myself a female date. I don’t need to lie about my gender or my nationality or where I live. I am doing the normal and regular dating everybody else is doing. Only thing is, I am only dating this white girl because I intend to ask her for some cash later on. This may not look like a scam but it is, when you consider that I am in the relationship just for the money. That’s why we call it the e-begging or electronic begging scam.
The Box of Money Scam
This is my favorite scam. I managed to get the picture you see here from a friend who makes up to 500 dollars almost monthly from this scam. Similar to the lottery scam, you receive a message with the picture of a box of money, telling you that you’ve won it, and an ambassador is getting ready to visit your country and hand you your box of money, but that you have to pay a certain amount to redeem your winnings.
This friend also told me that WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER, (the payment channel through which he receives the cash they send) has warned westerners times without number, not to send cash to people they don’t know in Nigeria. But “a fool and his money are soon parted”. So now we have greedy westerners who keep sending money to strangers in Nigeria, knowing very well at the back of their minds that what they are paying for is a scam.
It’s All About Greed
One reason these scammers are so successful is that the people who fall for these scams are themselves greedy. Like I said, they may have it at the back of their minds that the mails they get are scam mails, yet blinded by greed, they lose money to these scammers. Another reason is that they exploit the trust, honesty and forthrightness that is hallmark of most western societies to their advantage.
How to Detect Scams
There are a few ways to detect if a mail is a scam. It’s most likely, a scam mail if
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- It appeals to the emotions
If the sender is telling you a tragic or pathetic story about something that happened to him and/or his family, then it is most likely a scam. This is meant for you to have compassion for him and let your guard down’ and be moved to help him do whatever it is he is asking you to do in the mail.
- It has too many grammatical mistakes or is hardly fluent
The scammers are Nigerians. They may speak English but “English ain’t our mother tongue”. Some of these scammers do not write good English. Why would a senate president, or a bank CEO, or a finance minister, make such grammatical blunders in his mail? Doesn’t he at least have a secretary whose job it is to proof-read what he writes, including his mails before he sends them out?
- What they are asking you to do is illegal
Most westerners may not know this, but some of the help these scammers are asking for is illegal. For instance, they might tell you their father who was a secretary to the federal government of Nigeria was murdered by a dictator and left some few millions in a bank somewhere in Nigeria, and he needs your help in getting it out of the country. Question is, how did his dad (a secretary to the government) come about such money? And why is he desperate to get it out of the country?
Really, there is no one way of spotting scams from Nigeria. Some of these scammers have no other job they do except go to café and send scam mails. For some of them, this is the only thing they do to put food on the table and feed their families. So they will keep coming at you with everything they’ve got until they succeed. You westerners just have to be on guard at all times. Some of my fellow Nigerians that may come across this writeup may hate me for spilling my guts here but I can’t help it.
Nigerians are one of the most gifted and innovative people on earth. Sadly, their ingenuity is mostly used to do bad rather than to do good. A certain talk show host in the U.S. said all Nigerians are fraudulent. In a way, that might be true. We have come to accept corruption, fraud and deceit as part and parcel of our daily lives as you might hear some Nigerians say trash like “I like that so and so governor. Even though he stole money, at least he did one or two few things for my state…” Or “…nobody says they (the government) shouldn’t steal money, but while they steal they should try to do something for the citizens….”
Come October 1 2009, Nigeria will be 49. (A fool at almost )50, we are a people who are docile, cowardly, and thoroughly laid back. Not wanting to struggle to do away with the ultra corrupt government that has long been in place, we are smiling and suffering in silence, preferring only to talk about how corrupt politicians are and how bad the economy is, in street corners, in churches, at news stands, in bars, in beer parlors, and in goat stew joints.