A ‘Nigerian’ scam is a form of upfront payment or money transfer scam. They are called Nigerian scams because the first wave of them came from Nigeria, but they can come from anywhere in the world. The ‘4-1-9’ part of the name comes from the section of Nigeria’s Criminal Code which outlaws the practice.
The scammers usually contact you by email or letter and offer you a share in a large sum of money that they want to transfer out of their country. They may tell you about money trapped in central banks during civil wars or coups, often in countries currently in the news. Or they may tell you about massive inheritances that are difficult to access because of government restrictions or taxes in the scammer’s country.
Scammers ask you to pay money or give them your bank account details to help them transfer the money. You are then asked to pay fees, charges or taxes to help release or transfer the money out of the country through your bank. These ‘fees’ may even start out as quite small amounts. If paid, the scammer make up new fees that require payment before you can receive your ‘reward’. They will keep making up these excuses until they think they have got all the money they can out of you. You will never be sent the money that was promised.
You receive an offer out of the blue to ‘help’ someone from another country transfer their money out of their country (e.g. Sierra Leone, Nigeria or Iraq).
The offer sets out a long and often sad story about why the money cannot be transferred by the scammer. This usually involves an inheritance or profits from natural resources that the scammer might say they are trying to protect from taxes or a corrupt government.
You are offered a percentage of the total amount transferred in return for your assistance.
The amount of money to be transferred, and the payment that the scammer promises to you if you help, is usually very large.
The email or letter is in very polite, but broken English.
If you have been approached by someone who claims to need your help transferring money out of their country, delete the email, throw away the letter or hang up the phone.
Ask yourself—why would this person choose me to help them? You should also remember that money laundering could be a crime, and if you agree to help out the scammer you could be getting yourself in trouble.
This type of approach is ALWAYS a scam. You should NEVER give out your personal or banking details to somebody you don’t know. Don’t let the fact that a letter sounds enticing or genuine trick you. If you still think the letter may be genuine, make sure you seek the advice of an independent professional (lawyer, accountant or financial planner) before committing any money
Phishing emails are fake emails usually pretending to be from banks or other financial institutions. They make up some reason for you to give your account details and then use these details to steal your money.