I've gotten a ton of these e-mails too. Believe it or not, these con artists make hundreds of millions
of dollars a year on the scams. Their
success is thought to be the result of unemployment in Nigeria, wanting to 'get rich quick', and plain old American greed.
Helmutt, those Norwegian kids are a few of many who have been lured down to Nigeria. In some of these scams, the person being conned is told that they
need to be in Nigeria, or at least a border country in order for the transaction to go through. They are told that there's no need for a Visa in
Nigeria, and that's its safe to come by. The con artists, meanwhile, bribe airport officials to alow the victims through Immigration (because you DO
need a Visa in Nigeria) and basically use the threat of being arrested as leverage to obtain large amounts of money. Copied from the sources:
In almost every case there is a sense of urgency;
The victim is enticed to travel to Nigeria or a border country;
-There are many forged official looking documents;
-Most of the correspondence is handled by fax or through the mail;
-Blank letterheads and invoices are requested from the victim along with the banking particulars;
-Any number of Nigerian fees are requested for processing the transaction with each fee purported to be the last required;
-The confidential nature of the transaction is emphasized;
-There are usually claims of strong ties to Nigerian officials;
-A Nigerian residing in the U.S., London or other foreign venue may claim to be a clearing house bank for the Central Bank of Nigeria;
-Offices in legitimate government buildings appear to have been used by impostors posing as the real occupants or officials.
The most common forms of these fraudulent business proposals fall into seven main categories:
-Disbursement of money from wills
-Contract fraud (C.O.D. of goods or services)
-Purchase of real estate
-Conversion of hard currency
-Transfer of funds from over invoiced contracts
-Sale of crude oil at below market prices
"Victims are almost always requested to travel to Nigeria or a border country to complete a transaction. Individuals are often told that a visa will
not be necessary to enter the country. The Nigerian con artists may then bribe airport officials to pass the victims through Immigration and Customs.
Because it is a serious offense in Nigeria to enter without a valid visa, the victim's illegal entry may be used by the fraudsters as leverage to
coerce the victims into releasing funds. Violence and threats of physical harm may be employed to further pressure victims. In June of 1995, an
American was murdered in Lagos, Nigeria, while pursuing a 4-1-9 scam, and numerous other foreign nationals have been reported as missing."
"Victims are often convinced of the authenticity of Advance Fee Fraud schemes by the forged or false documents bearing apparently official Nigerian
government letterhead, seals, as well as false letters of credit, payment schedules and bank drafts. The fraudster 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
"Indications are that Advance Fee Fraud grosses hundreds of millions of dollars annually and the losses are continuing to escalate. In all
likelihood, there are victims who do not report their losses to authorities due to either fear or embarrassment."