Take it From Sarah

January 06, 2010
Scam: A friend or relative is stranded with no money in Nigeria

Location:  Nationwide

“I need you to send me money so I can pay what I owe at my hotel and purchase a plane ticket home.”

A lot of people are leery when it comes to lending certain friends and family members money.   How do you determine the person asking is trustworthy and sincere?

Sarah received an email from a friend that stated her friend was in trouble and needed Sarah’s help.  The email describes an unfortunate series of events that took place the previous evening in Nigeria where her friend was robbed as she left a restaurant while on vacation.  The thieves got away with all of her money, her passport, plane ticket, and phone.  Sarah’s friend was able to send email using the hotel’s computer and went on to explain that she owed the hotel for her stay and couldn’t get home.  She’d contacted the local embassy but they were unable to assist at that time so Sarah’s friend needed to borrow $2,475 to cover her hotel and travel expenses to get back home.

Sarah replied to the email to obtain the necessary information to send her friend the money via Western Union. Hours later, Sarah received a phone call from her friend stating her email account had been hacked; the hacker had sent a mass email to all of the contacts in her address book asking for money.

Fraudulent requests for money come in all disguises.  BBB has seen scams like this derive from Nigeria, Canada, and even within the United States.  To sound more legitimate, scammers will claim they’ve been stranded in cities like Las Vegas or New Orleans.  If you are contacted by a friend or relative who claims to be stranded and in need of a money wire, don’t send it until you’ve made some phone calls.  Be wary of any solicitation that involves money transfers and foreign countries, especially if you received the solicitation online.