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Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
New Twist on Nigerian Letter Scam
May 07, 2014

The ploy of the well known Nigerian Letter Scam is to dupe unsuspecting victims into believing they are either helping someone in need, or getting involved in a legitimate inheritance or transfer of money. Savvy scam artists have now evolved the Nigerian Letter Scam pretending to be detectives and government agencies combating Internet scams and helping victims to determine if they are in fact eligible to receive real legitimate money.

Nigerian Letter scams or 419 scams, as they are also often called, are essentially what is known as "advanced-fee loan" scams. In these scams, fraudsters create a variety of legitimate sounding yet totally fictitious stories and characters in attempt to get their victims to hand over private personal information, as well as wiring money often for the purpose of paying of fees or funding loans. Scammers are very persistent in their attempts to defraud victims, and often violence is threatened in order for victims to pay.

Regonzing the Red Flags:

Most Nigerian Letter scams sent via mail and email contain the same identifying elements:

  • Correspondence contains what might appear as "broken English," spelling mistakes and gramatical errors.
  • Letters appear overly "official" with a variety of references to departments, organizations and government agencies that may sound legitimate.
  • Correspondence comes to you randomly and totally unsolicited.
  • Corrspondence comes to you from another country or requires you to provide personal or financial information to someone in another country.
  • There is always some sort of interesting plea or promise that you will benefit financially from your involvement.
  • Details listed in the letter are often vague, unclear, contradictory or confusing.

To avoid becoming a victim of Nigerian Letter Scams be sure to delete all unsolicited email correspondence from unknown sources, or throw out such mail. DO NOT respond in any way to the sender of Nigerian Letter Scams. Such scammers rely on making initial and direct contact with potential victims, so that they can apply the "art of persuasion" to pressure victims into participatin in their frauds.