The so-called "Nigerian letters" consist of an unexpected letter or e-mail promising highly profitable returns on business.
They are called "Nigerian" letters because, initially, the senders of the letters pretended they were Nigerian citizens or from other African countries.
The expectation of making a large amount of money with a few simple actions, is the attraction that fraudsters use to make potential victims forget the most basic precautions.
How does it work?
The method is very simple:
An unknown sender contacts the potential victim pretending to be a lawyer, member of the family, or close friend of an important member of the Government or an important business person who has died in an accident or during a political revolution.
Before dying, this person left a large amount of money in a bank account. The sender promises that they have legal access to this account and wishes to transfer the money to an account abroad.
They found the name and address of the potential victim on the recommendation of another person or by chance and the victim is the only person of confidence who can help them to transfer the money.
For their help, the victim is promised a percentage of the total amount of money and asked to be discrete while the business is conducted.
The victim must open an account in a certain bank to which the money will be sent.
The next stage of the fraud involves convincing the victim that the transfer of the money is underway. For this, the victim is sent seemingly official documents and false bank statements and letters.
A large number of letters, e-mails, faxes and phone calls are exchanged between the fraudsters and their victim to win their trust and to gain as much personal information as possible.
Once the fraudsters have persuaded the victim to trust them and that they are about to receive all the money, they tell the victim that some unexpected problems have occurred preventing the delivery of the money.
It is essential that the victim pays taxes, special charges or fees to a lawyer. The fraudsters promise that this payment will be the last that the victim is required to make.
However, after this payment, new taxes and fees start arriving until the victim begins to suspect something.
As soon as the victim stops paying, the fraudsters disappear.
Sometimes, after a while, they contact the victim again, pretending to be investigators who know about the scam and offering to help the victim recover their money. This contact tries to obtain more money from the victim with the excuse of covering the cost of the investigation.
What should you do if you receive one of these letters?
- Do not answer.
- Never provide your bank or personal details.
What should you do if you have already contacted them or paid money?
- Keep all the documents you have received and the messages sent.
- Keep all the transaction documents.
- Contact the police and follow their instructions.