The Truth Behind Nigerian Scams

The Facts

  • Emerged in the early 1980s under consecutive governments of Nigeria.
  • Constitutes the 3rd to the 5th largest industry in Nigeria.
  • May be also referred to as an advanced fee fraud, 419 fraud, The Nigerian Connection, and 419 – a section of the criminal code of Nigeria
  • Authorities often don’t recover the cash raked in from victims.
  • Perpetrators are often West Africans, predominantly Nigerians, who work from Nigeria and abroad. Nigerian scams remain a confidence fraud, not a cyber crime, tapping into all avenues of communications.

How Nigerian Scams Work

The potential victim of a Nigerian scam receives a letter via spam, fax, or mail. The letter requests the recipient to aid in laundering money out of the country or another illegal job in return for a huge sum of money. Many variations of the Nigerian scam letter exists, but most request a small amount of money to help transfer an incredible amount of wealth in return for a substantial monetary award.

However, if the recipient chooses to pay the upfront fee to help transfer the money. The recipient will often receive another request for a transfer fee with a promise of even more cash. This continues until the recipient runs out of money or the scammer moves on to fresh bait.

Some scammers may even request your personal information, like your bank account or credit card number, so they can transfer the non-existent cash award to you, making it important to know that whenever you give your personal information online or over the phone you open yourself to the possibilities of falling victim to identity theft, credit card fraud, insurance fraud, internet fraud, and more scams. So, take the extra step to protect your personal information and discard Nigerian scam letters and other unsolicited emails, services, and requests.

Recipients of Nigerian Scams

If you receive a Nigerian scam letter through any means of communication, you should do the following:

  • Discard the letter and don’t respond
  • Post a complaint to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) or
  • File a complaint to the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at, if you’ve lost money
  • Write a letter to the email provider of the scammer at the abuse address, if you received the scam through your free email provider. Remember to include the letter you’ve received plus its headers and subject line in the complaint.

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