Published in C&K Magazine: Vol #1 Issue #2 – Date: 2006

According to “The Business Link”, the official publication of the Better Business Bureau, our notorious friends in Nigeria are still at it. The Scam that never seems to die is still going strong.The numbers presented by both the U.S. Postal service and the BBB are astonishing. Estimates have more than two million letters being intercepted by postal authorities and losses to the perpetrators totaling more than 200 million dollars!!! The 200 million was an estimate dating back to 1991!

If you are not familiar with the “Nigerian Scam”,also known as the “Advance Fee Fraud” and “419 Fraud”, after the relevant section of the U.S. Criminal Code, let us further explain. First, a potential victim receives an unsolicited correspondence. For years, these solicitations came primarily via fax but now email seems to be the means of choice. The victim is then asked for their assistance to move funds out of Nigeria and promised a large commission. Millions of dollars are usually claimed and the transaction often appears to be totally legitimate. The appeal is made under the guise that political turmoil in Nigeria has created the need to move funds and the victim’s good business reputation suggests trustworthiness.It is a complete hoax.

As the scam unfolds and correspondence goes back and forth, frequently a plea for funds to be advanced is made. Usually this is to “grease the wheel” and enable the “large” transaction to occur. There may also be a request to provide blank pieces of the victim’s corporate letterhead, and of course they will ask for bank account numbers and wiring instructions. If these terms are met, not only will the victim loose the advanced fee but also an attempt will be made to clean out any bank account.

Nigeria, Africa’s most heavily populated nation, has the unfortunate designation as having one of the highest crime rates in the world. In many of its largest cities, violent crime in broad daylight is the norm with foreigners being predominantly targeted. Since declaring its independence from Britain in 1960, this country has experienced six coups d’etats, a civil war and a presidential assassination. Civil unrest and strikes are frequent. Warnings pertaining to the dangers of traveling to Nigeria are numerous and can be reviewed with the US State Department. So much unrest exists that some reports actually have the “Advanced Fee Scam” as having become this nation’s third largest industry.

To protect yourself consider these guidelines. According to the United States Department of State anyone considering business with Nigeria should look out for the following:

  1. Any offer of a substantial percentage of a large sum of money to be transferred into your account in return for your confidentiality.
  2. Requests for signed blank letterhead or invoices.
  3. Solicitation letters claiming personal ties to high Nigerian officials.

You should keep in mind that confidence scams are not always easy to recognize and this one has been very successful. We found amusing that while compiling this report our office received a fax from Nigeria and sure enough it was our old friends with a new twist. For your edification and amusement, the following (poor English, misspellings and all) is that letter. Again, please keep in mind this letter is the initial contact of a SCAM!


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