You might have heard of a “Nigerian prince scam,” but are you sure you can always recognize and avoid one?
Scam groups originating in Nigeria may have started these common scams, which involve lies about war, tragedy, or other conflicts, followed by false promises of money, but the scams now come from all over the world.
The criminal code “419” outlaws this kind of scamming activity in Nigeria, but many of the Nigerian money scams persist, targeting innocent people every day. Avoid becoming one of them by reading below to learn how to recognize a Nigerian email scam and report it to relevant authorities.
Nigerian scam emails often include a few similar key components.
First, an email scammer who has somehow gotten your contact information will get in touch with you. The email (or, in rare cases, mail, social media message, or phone call) will start with an introduction of the person. These scams became known as “Nigerian prince scams” because the scammers often claimed to be members of African royalty.
Next, the scammer will describe a harrowing situation they need to be saved from, such as famine, war, or natural devastation. Some scammers customize the messages by referring to specific recent events that have made waves on mainstream, international media outlets.
The catch? You’re the only one who can save the emailer…by either making a wire transfer overseas or by giving them your personal information so they can send you a hefty sum of money. In many cases, Nigeran money scammers will ask you for digitally loadable money, such as cryptocurrency like bitcoin.
In many cases, Nigerian email scams include many grammar and spelling errors. They also tend to be lengthy and rambling. Watch out for these issues when you’re trying to discern whether or not an email is legitimate.
If you suspect that you are the intended victim of a Nigerian money scam, contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Never send any personal information, especially banking information, or banking information (and certainly not any money), to someone you suspect might be a scammer.
Wondering if you received a fake email as part of a “Nigerian prince scam?” Contact any named organizations in the suspicious email, look them up, and contact them directly. They’ll be able to let you know whether or not you are dealing with a scam.