West African Scam / Nigerian Advance
Fee Fraud in Internet Web Mail Frauds and Email Letter Scams
From earlier sections you might have picked up the impression
that only seniors are deceived by offers of instant wealth. Nothing
could be further from the truth. While it is true that seniors
are targeted for sweepstakes offers the mechanics of telemarketing
and investment fraud are simply enhanced and modified for attacking
various targets of opportunity.
This particular scam targets middle class, middle age, business
and professional men who would never be as easily deceived by a
lottery scam. Estimates put the losses from these "Nigerian
Advance Fee" operations at over $1 million "every single
day" in the U.S. alone. The multi-stage fraud starts when
you receive a scam fax, e-mail or letter such as these examples:
Nigerian Advanced Fee Fraud Email Scams
Attention: The President/CEO
Confidential Business Proposal
Having consulted with my colleagues and based on the information
gathered from the Nigerian Chambers Of Commerce And Industry, I
have the privilege to request your assistance to transfer the sum
of $47,500,000.00 (forty seven million, five hundred thousand United
States dollars) into your accounts. The above sum resulted from
an over-invoiced contract, executed, commissioned and paid for
about five years (5) ago by a foreign contractor. This action was
however intentional and since then the fund has been in a suspense
account at The Central Bank Of Nigeria Apex Bank.
We are now ready to transfer the fund overseas and that is where
you come in. It is important to inform you that as civil servants,
we are forbidden to operate a foreign account; that is why we require
your assistance. The total sum will be shared as follows: 70% for
us, 25% for you and 5% for local and international expenses incidental
to the transfer.
The transfer is risk free on both sides. I am an accountant with
the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). If you find
this proposal acceptable, we shall require the following documents:
(a) your banker's name, telephone, account and fax numbers.
(b) your private telephone and fax numbers —for confidentiality
and easy communication.
(c) your letter-headed paper stamped and signed.
Alternatively we will furnish you with the text of what to type
into your letter-headed paper, along with a breakdown explaining,
comprehensively what we require of you. The business will take
us thirty (30) working days to accomplish.
Please reply urgently.
Howgul Abul Arhu
FROM: Dr Altaka Yurmani
Central Bank of Nigeria
I have been requested by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company
to contact you for assistance in resolving a matter. The Nigerian
National Petroleum Company has recently concluded a large number
of contracts for oil exploration in the sub-Sahara region. The
contracts have immediately produced moneys equaling US$40,000,000.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company is desirous of oil exploration
in other parts of the world, however, because of certain regulations
of the Nigerian Government, it is unable to move these funds to
You assistance is requested as a non-Nigerian citizen to assist
the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, and also the Central Bank
of Nigeria, in moving these funds out of Nigeria. If the funds
can be transferred to your name, in your United States account,
then you can forward the funds as directed by the Nigerian National
Petroleum Company. In exchange for your accommodating services,
the Nigerian National Petroleum Company would agree to allow you
to retain 10%, or US$4 million of this amount.
However, to be a legitimate transferee of these moneys according
to Nigerian law, you must presently be a depositor of at least
US$100,000 in a Nigerian bank which is regulated by the Central
Bank of Nigeria.
If it will be possible for you to assist us, we would be most
grateful. We suggest that you meet with us in person in Lagos,
and that during your visit I introduce you to the representatives
of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, as well as with certain
officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Please call me at your earliest convenience at 18-467-4975. Time
is of the essence in this matter; very quickly the Nigerian Government
will realize that the Central Bank is maintaining this amount on
deposit, and attempt to levy certain depository taxes on it.
Prince Alyusi Islassis
Request For Urgent Business Relationship
We have the pleasure to make this surprising but mutually benefiting
business proposal. I am a member of the newly inaugurated committee
for the privatization of the refineries of the Nigerian National
Petroleum Corporation, in Nigeria. The members of the committee
are interested in the importation of goods into the country with
funds presently floating in the Central Bank of Nigeria / Nigerian
National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) foreign payments account.
I got your address through the office of the Nigerian Chamber of
Commerce and Industry.
The federal military government of Nigeria, intends to lease the
three existing petroleum refineries to private individuals and
companies. This is to make the refineries more viable, resourceful
and to eliminate undue wastage and fraud. This privatization is
in-line with the recommendations of the World Bank and International
Monetary Fund (IMF) as a prerequisite for future financial assistance.
The refineries are heavily indebted to many companies and my committee
has the mandate (task) of compiling the names of these companies
and debt owed them and also recommend for payment, all contracts
that have been fully executed. With our position in the committee,
which comprises of my ministry, federal ministry of petroleum resources,
Nigerian National Petroleum corporation (NNPC), the federal Ministry
of Finance (FMF) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), we have
successfully secured for ourselves, the sum of US $73,000,000 (seventy-three
million United States Dollars). This sum was acquired by carefully
inflating the amount of indebtedness by this amount (US $73,000,000).
We need a reliable company to be included in the list of companies
to be paid. This company will be paid for a contract executed in
Kaduna Refinery in 1993.
I was therefore mandated in trust by members of the committee,
to seek a foreign partner into whose account we could transfer
the sum of US $73,000,000, hence I am writing you this letter.
We have agreed to share the funds thus:
1) 70% for us (the committee members)
2) 20% for you (the account owner)
3) 10% will be used in settling taxation and all local and foreign
expenses that will be incurred in the course of this transaction
It is from our 70% that we wish to commence the importation business.
We also need assurance from you that you will let us have our share
once the inflated amount (US $73,000,000.00) is transferred into
The payment will be done by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)
through its correspondent bank. What we need from you, is that
you provide a vital account into which the funds will be transferred/lodged.
Note that this transaction is 100% safe and guaranteed since the
law under which our committee was set up, has empowered us to disburse
all the funds.
We shall commence the transfer of the funds immediately we receive
the following information by Tel/Fax::
1) Your company name and full address
2) Your bank's name, telephone and fax number
3) Your account number and name of would be beneficiary
The above information will enable us put up letters of claim and
job description to the respective ministries for the issuance of
the mandatory fund release approval/recommendations. This way,
your company will be recognized and accepted as the beneficiary
of the contract entitlements before the final remittance to your
nominated account, by the Central Bank of Nigeria, being paying
Note that we will be responsible for the payment of the federal
inland revenue tax on behalf of your company and a contract agreement
between your company and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation
shall be drawn up and antedated showing that your company has a
legitimate contract with the NNPC and must be paid.
We are looking forward to doing this business with you and solicit
absolute confidentiality from you in this transaction. Please acknowledge
receipt of this letter, using the above Telefax number for more
details regarding this transaction. Also endeavor to send the requested
Get Me Out of Here
Col. Yusef Saraki in Nigeria sends you a fax claiming that the
Nigerian government was just overturned. He is presently under
house arrest and his assets have been frozen by the new regime.
He needs to transfer a total sum of US$60M to an offshore non-resident
In order for him to do so he needs you to sign a document as "next
to kin" and pay $200 a day to ensure his safety until the
funds can be wire-transferred to your account. To avoid any interruption
he needs a "small" advancement fee (approximately 30
days worth) until the wire transfer is completed.
He claims that upon completion of the wire transfer to you, he
will somehow find a way to escape Nigeria and move to Korea with
his family, at which time you will be entitled to 10%, or $6 million,
for your troubles. He insists that as this is a life or death matter
the entire transaction must be completed within two weeks. And
heaven forbid he should be killed, leaving you with all the money.
He provides you with a fax copy of the Bilateral Agreement between
himself and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation in Johannesburg,
South Africa and some other qualifying affidavits.
Blueprint for a Nigerian
Advance Fee Fraud Scam
|This is a five billion US$ worldwide scam which
has run since at least 1989 under successive Governments of
Nigeria. It is also referred to as "Advance Fee Fraud" and "419
Fraud" after the relevant section of the Criminal Code
You first receive a letter, fax or e-mail from an insider or alleged "official" representing
a present or former foreign government or agency. The letter, while
appearing transparently bogus and even ridiculous to most, is unfortunately
growing in its effectiveness and reach.
Initially targeting businessmen, the scam has now expanded to
include the average citizen due to the low cost of email transmission
in relation to potential gains. Church officials are also being
specifically targeted with uniquely worded offers of charitable
bequests. The common thread is that the initial letter sets the
stage and is the opening round of a scheme within a scheme.
The following characteristics may be found in these letters.
||Historically mailed out, they have
progressed on to faxes, then e-mails.
||Many are addressed to "president" or "CEO," rather than a specific name.
||They are marked "urgent" and "confidential."
||They may contain spelling mistakes
and grammatical errors which give you a sense of intellectual
superiority, sympathy, or assurance of origin.
||If mailed to you it will have foreign,
||Written almost always in all capital
letters reminiscent of older teletypes even though currently
||The dollar amounts to be transferred,
invariably in the tens of millions of dollars, is also written
out in text form. ie $32,460,000 USD ( Thirty-two million,
four hundred and sixty thousand United States Dollars )
||They say you have been recommended
for, or they have verified, your honesty and business acumen.
The Exalted Sender
The sender may claim to be one of the following:
a senior civil servant from
a department in one of their Ministries i.e. the Audit Bureau
Department of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. (NNPC),
the International Remittance Department, the Ministry of
Trade and Industry, the Federal Tenders Board, Ministry of
Aviation, Ministry of Finance, Nigeria Export Promotion Council
(NEPC), Nigerian Petroleum Resources Ministry Headquarters,
OMPADEC (Oil Minerals Producing Area Development Commission)
||Nigerian royalty or a political
insider such as "the son of the President of Nigeria" or
a "Nigerian prince or princess"
||the spouse, relative, aide or confidante
of a deposed leader
||a Nigerian businessman or lawyer
with an impressive title such as "Chief", "Barrister" or "Dr."
||an auditor or accountant with strong
ties to Nigerian officials
||a religious figure such as a Deacon,
Surnames commonly used with a multitude of given names include:
Abacha, Abu, Abubakar, Adams,
Adama, Adamas, Adamu, Ademola, Afolabi, Agu, Ahmed, Akin, Akins,
Akpan, Aku, Akume, Alabi, Alamin, Ali, Amadi, Asika, Attah, Ayoola,
Baba, Babalola, Bakare, Bako, Bangura, Bedie, Bello, Benson,
Biyah, Bongo, Brown, Camara, Chambers, Chika, Chukwu, Coker,
Cole, Coleman, Collins, Dangote, Danjuma, David, Davies, Dickson,
Duke, Duru, Edward, Ego, Egobia, Eke, Emeka, Eke, Emeka, Emmanuel,
Eze, Galadima, Garuba, Gezi, George, Giwa, Godwin, Goodman, Gwarzo,
Hassan, Ibe, Ibeh, Ibrahim, Idah, Idris, Ige, Igho, Jack, James,
John, Johnson, Joseph, Jude,Kabba, Kabbah, Kabila, Kalu, Kamara,
Khumalo, Kofi, Koffi, Kolade, Kone, Koroma, Koromah, Kunte, Lamine,
Lawal, Lee, Madu, Mane, Mark, Martins, Mboma, Michael, Mobutu,
Mohammed, Momoh, Momodu, Moore, Morgan, Moyo, Musa, Mustapha,
Nelson, Nyerere, Obaro, Obaseki, Obi, Odili, Ojo, Okon, Okoro,
Omenka, Osa, Osagie, Peter, Peters, Sani, Sanni, Sankoh, Sanusi,
Savimbi, Saro-Wiwa, Sese-Seko, Sese Seko, Smith, Sule, Suleman,
Tanko, Thomas, Tijani, Tunde, Ubah, Ube, Umaru, Useni, Usman,
Waziri, West, Williams, Yaradua and Yusuf.
A listing of over 2000 variations of Names used in Nigerian Advance Fee Fraud letters and emails is
available on this site. Recipients of letters using names not
listed are requested to forward them to us for inclusion in order
to assist web searchers seeking to investigate these unsolicited
Interestingly, 419 kingpins have perfected the act of inventing
odd names that cut across tribes and sometimes religion. Thus,
it is not impossible to see names like Mike Ajasin Ikoku as an
individual, while others could have as many as seven to ten "operational" names made up from variations of actual bank and ministry personnel.
The names of prominent South African politicians, including former
President Nelson Mandela and Finance Minister Trevor Manual, have
recently been dragged into a Nigerian 419 letter scam uncovered
One Nigerian, who claimed to be the late Oliver Tambo's younger
brother, used the names of Mandela, Manual and Jeff Radebe, minister
of public enterprises, to con wealthy international businessmen
out of their money.
In his letter, "Emmanuel M. Tambo" claims to be a senior
legal official at "SA Gold and Diamond Mine and Processing
in Krugersdorp" and that he is the "junior" brother
of former ANC president, Oliver Tambo. According to him, freedom
fighters such as Mandela, Manuel and Radebe, were honoured for
their contribution to the struggle with cabinet posts.
The Opportunity of a Lifetime
New variations of the scheme are being developed all the time
but the most common forms of these fraudulent business proposals
fall into these main categories:
||Transfer of funds from "over-invoiced" or "over-estimated" contracts
relating to resources, medical equipment, Turn Around Maintenance
( TAM ) or infrastructure
||Assistance escaping the country
with accumulated wealth ( bribe money / graft )
||Efforts to defraud government on "forgotten" or "former regime" accounts
||Contract fraud (C.O.D. of goods
||Conversion of hard currency or
||Sale of crude oil or other commodities
at below-market prices
||Transfer of accounts of now defunct
||Require money for chemicals to "clean" large amounts of marked currency
||Purchase of real estate
||Deposed Leaders and their families
( widows, sons ) and associates ( aides, lawyers)
||Over-invoiced contracts and government
employees ( NNPC, Central Bank of Nigeria )
||Forgotten accounts, wills and inheritances,
death-bed claims of wealth.
||Assistance getting stolen assets
( cash, diamonds ) out of the country
||Gifts or bequests to charitable
or religious organizations
||Relative killed in World Trade
Center left a fortune
||Bogus job offers with rebate of
wage overpayment using third party checks
||Inflated and expense-paid offers
to buy and ship your used vehicle to Nigeria
More examples can be found at 419 Fraud, Puppy Scam, Lottery Scams, 419 Scam, Nigerian Romance Scams, Lottery Fraud, 419 Scams, Advance Fee Fraud, Lottery Scam, Nigerian Money Scam, Sweepstakes Lottery.
They essentially need your distant involvement in some illegal,
but mostly white-collar, criminal proposal. They will want
to get the money out of Nigeria or other West African country by
using you as a conduit "who will benefit greatly from your
assistance and cooperation".
It must be noted that while many such scams imply the victims
participation in an illegal act there are various forms of
so-called "legal" 419 such as the Will Scam, the Real
Estate Scam, Scholarship Scam and others for which there is no
basis for the victim to be considered a potential criminal and
have their claims dismissed or even be charged under the 419 act
You might hear:
"My father left me $40 million in his will, but I have
to bribe government officials to get it out."
"The Nigerian National Petroleum Company has discovered
oil, and as government employees we want to acquire the land,
but we need a front man to purchase it for us."
"We just sold a bunch of crude oil in Nigeria, but we
have to bribe the banker to get it out."
"The Nigerian government overpaid on some contract, and
we need a front man to get it out of the country before they
discover its error."
"Your charity has been named as a beneficiary in the will
of a wealthy Nigerian. You just need to send the necessary "proofs
"We respectfully invite your kind attention to the transfer
of $25 million U.S. into your personal/company offshore account."
The goal of the criminal is to delude you into thinking that you
are being drawn into a very lucrative, albeit questionable, arrangement.
You must first be reassured and confident of the potential success
of the deal without risk to yourself.
They may allege that the present military government is now paying
out previously frozen moneys but that the civil servants involved
are attempting to keep the funds for themselves.
They make you think that you are just going to scam the Nigerian
Government, the Central Bank of Nigeria, or some greedy civil servants.
Though you are naturally cautious you hopefully want the deal to
A Sense of Urgency
There is always a sense of urgency attached to the proposal. A
government audit in the near future will close the window of opportunity
or the job of the person able to transfer the funds is in jeopardy.
Singular Good Fortune
Unfortunately, there is a perception that no one is prone to enter
into such an obviously suspicious relationship. However, a large
number of victims are enticed into believing they have been singled
out from the masses to share in multi-million dollar windfall profits
for doing absolutely nothing.
And figuring that if there is no risk to you, in exchange for
10-30% of millions of dollars, it's at least worth the phone call
or e-mail to check it out, even though you are extremely skeptical.
So you make the call and actually talk to the writer who begs
you to keep this proposal a secret because he is personally taking
quite a risk and fears discovery of his involvement.
He emphasizes the confidential nature of the transaction with
emphasis that any disclosure risks the completion of the transfer
of funds. He reiterates its top secret nature and implies a tax
free status if undiscovered. Knowing that it is likely, if not
certainly, illegal you agree to keep quiet about it on your end.
"It is our sincere conviction that you will handle this transaction
with absolute confidentiality, maturity and utmost sense of purpose."
Though still wary, you are assured that it will cost you nothing
but your sponsorship to proceed further, so you provide your full
name and mailing particulars.
Soon documents arrive by courier crowded with legal stamps and
officialdom from the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Nigerian National
Petroleum Corporation and your newly-appointed Nigerian lawyers
the firm of Takurmani & Ruhn.
You are convinced of the authenticity of the proposal by the numerous
documents bearing official looking Nigerian government letterhead,
stamps and seals. Such forms may bear the title of:
||Fund Management Agreement
||Fund Remittance Voucher
|| International Remittance Department,
||Final Notification of Transfer,
Fund Release Order
||Power of Attorney Form
||Project Development and Investment
||Sworn Affidavit of Truth / Claim,
||Verdict of the Panel of Judges
||Affidavit of Fund Ownership
||Approval / Transfer of Payment
||Certificate of Incorporation
||Specimen Claims Application Form
||Drug Free Certificate
||Transfer Confirmation Slip
||Confirmation of Banking Particulars
||Foreign Exchange Control Approval
||Certificate of Registration Official
||Analysis of Fund Transfer of Fund
||Fund Release Order Form
The manufacture of impressive stamps and letterhead is now supported
by a huge infrastructure funded by the huge success of this industry.
Quite often the fraudsters invent bogus Government committees
purported to have the payments. Also, it is not unusual for them
to contrive fake publications in the newspapers evidencing purported
approvals to transfer the non-existent funds.
The signatories of the letters claim to be acting as middlemen
and request that you supply three signed and stamped blank company
letterheads and blank invoices together with bank details such
as account numbers, addresses, telephone and fax numbers.
They say these will be used to show completion of the multi-million
dollar "contract" which will be submitted for approval
to the Central Bank of Nigeria. Upon approval, the funds will be
remitted to your account.
Rather than risk giving access to your real accounts you wisely
set up a new account and visualize keeping all the money for yourself.
After all, once you have total control over the transferred money,
what claim can they legally make on it?
Although some businessmen foolishly give access to their true
bank accounts, sending back such information normally just indicates
to the scammers that they have hooked another victim. It is usually
only low-level, independent 419 fraudsters who, lacking the infrastructure
or finesse, will strike early and plunder it. Besides, most participants
take the initial precaution of opening a minimum balance account.
One other purpose is to secure legitimate identification and account
information in furtherance of their extensive and highly successful
check fraud schemes. This involves having nomadic scammers open
business accounts across the country using fake or stolen identification
then cashing bogus checks, which they deposit, and move on before
being discovered or apprehended.
The paperwork may also be used to forge letters of recommendation
to other victim companies in the future and to seek out travel
visas from the American Embassy in Lagos for individuals wishing
to escape the impoverished country.
The most likely thing to happen at some point, regarding this
account, is an attempt, usually successful, to have you deposit
a check of foreign origin as an inducement to have you provide
a share of certain expenses.
For example, they may give you a check for $85,000 and ask you
to send them just $4000. Reassured that their check has cleared
after a week in your account, you send the requested amount to
later discover it takes three weeks to determine it is a bogus
deposit for which your bank holds you, not them, responsible.
To offset any concerns about revealing financial information some
letters have the following disclaimer.
"NB: Bank Account Details not necessary as preferred mode
of payment is by draft or cheque."
Recently Nigerian rings have been opening investment accounts
within various brokerage houses and depositing large sums of money
with stolen and counterfeit corporate checks. In a number of cases,
the brokerage firm has borne the loss, often totaling millions
Some Requirements Arise
Upon receipt of the requested documents, you are then politely
asked to transfer money to pay for newly-discovered transfer taxes
and contract fees demanded by the Central Bank of Nigeria and fees
for the attorneys acting on your behalf, if you choose not to come
there in person.
Your initial contact person is most apologetic, but not surprised
by the greed of the attorneys and the government and bank officials,
things not within his control. The lawyers want 2% of the money
or $195,000, in advance, for their services.
You say "No way!" and the good "Doctor" offers
to negotiate. He calls back and is jubilant that he has talked
them down to $100,000. Still you balk, but he reminds you that
it is a pittance compared to your future bounty. You must still
mull it over.
He calls again and though quite poor himself he offers to sell
his house to provide $25,000 if you can somehow manage the rest.
You accede and wire off the funds, already planning your luxury
Soon some problem concerning the "inside man" will arise
or an official will demand that an up-front bribe be paid before
the money can be transferred.
"The President of the Bank will not release the money unless
you pay him a bribe."
Either initially or eventually you must provide further fees and
payments, usually by wire transfer, for various taxes and expenses
to consummate the transaction such as:
||export or insurance fees to help
move the money safely to foreign bank accounts
||attorney fees, transaction fees
||demurrage, storage or release fees
by a Security Company
||gifts, tender fees, cable and communications
||a variety or processing, licensing
or registration fees
||advance fees, transfer taxes, performance
||a request to extend credit or grant
||$15,000 for an anti-terrorist certificate
||fees and deed stamps
||stamp duty on capital
||Drug Free Certificate fees
||Currency Fluctuating Marginal Difference
||Economic Recovery Levy for the
National Economic Recovery Fund
||fees for signing, VAT, audits..
By now you have become the primary supporter of the scheme and
will willingly contribute a progressively larger amount of money
whenever the deal is threatened by demands for a proportionate
sharing of payments for various 'taxes' and 'fees' supposedly to
facilitate the processing and remittance of the alleged funds.
You are faced with the prospect of either losing these initial
payments or paying even more fees, hoping for the big payoff. In
this way, tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars may be swindled
from a victim.
Each fee that is paid is described as the very last required but
invariably "oversights", "errors", "complications" or "temporary difficulties" are discovered, necessitating additional payments
and delays which allow the process to be stretched out over many
months until you either run out of money or gullibility. The collection
of these 'advance fees' is the real objective of the scam.
Once people get hooked they become more and more resistant to
accepting that it’s a scam because they become vested in
the deal. Through denial, some people will never come to the realization
that they’ve been a victim to a fraud, continuing to believe
that one more payment and their windfall is going to happen.
Come See For Yourself
You may be invited to visit Nigeria and meet with your fellow
conspirators before finalizing the transfer of funds or the payment
of your major advance fee if you balk at sending it without more
proof of legitimate illegitimacy . During the visit you are introduced
to the Nigerian "government officials" who can "approve" the
You are likely asked to put down a small deposit to show "good
faith" and help to defray some of the expenses of your gracious
hosts, which include bribes to the proper authorities.
The meeting may occur in real or fake government offices with
dozens of supporting staff adding to the officialdom. You even
get a tour through government buildings by high- ranking officials
and are shown piles of cash in the vault of the Central Bank. The
character actors and extras rival those in "The Sting".
There have been cases where victims have had meetings with genuine
Nigerian Government officials in their offices to discuss a 419 "deal" during
office hours. There are also cases of victims verifying the phone
number of the relevant Parastatal from the Lagos directory assistance,
calling that number (CBN, for example), asking for their scammer
by name, and getting put through during office hours.
On January 5th, 2001 the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of
Nigeria (CBN) Mr. M. R. Rasheed was charged in a US Federal District
Court with lying under oath and providing false testimony regarding
his direct involvement in setting up secret offshore accounts and
Expatriate Nigerians operate from cells in the Netherlands, Spain,
United States, Britain, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan and other African
countries with the assistance of confederates within West Africa.
They may claim to be a clearing house bank for the Central Bank
of Nigeria, adding an even greater international scope and credibility
to the operation.
This factor also draws in victims who are apprehensive of traveling
to Africa but will make a short-haul flight to a predominantly
white and stable country but where he is still out of familiar
surroundings and more likely to overlook unorthodox business methods.
The term "Nigerian Advance Fee Fraud" is, therefore,
only partially accurate and the problem is truly one of international
dimensions, with both victims and offenders being located across
In one operation a Dr. John Edward, claimed to be with the Universal
Commercial Bank PLC, a non-existent bank in Nigeria, with correspondent
office address at Intermark Trust, 161, Bay Street, Toronto, Canada.
He was accompanied by two Nigerian "lawyers"; Aminu
Isiaka who claimed to be a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, and George
Chidera, of 79 Ebute Metta East, Victoria Island, and No 12 Yisa
Oroki Crescent, Ikoyi, respectively. The addresses are, as in most
419 cases, non-existent. Both showed an identity card proclaiming
membership in the Association of Lawyers of Nigeria.
In return for a $23,000 clearance charge, one victim was handed
a certificate of the Probe and Verification Panel of Foreign Debt
Recovery and Payment, with an official seal of the Nigerian Government.
He was also asked to sign a paper that he had received the funds
and that he would not take any legal action against the Nigerian
Used in Nigerian Scams
After that, the next, and usually final "black money" stage,
of classic 419 moves began to unfold. After the documents were
signed, Dr. John Edward and George Chidera came back with a security
officer and an aluminum case full of US$ bank notes bundled in
plastic and covered in a white powdery substance.
It was explained that all notes marked with numbers are to be
cleansed by a chemical emulsion. In 419 parlance, this is known
as the Wash-Wash stage. He was told that the procedure was introduced
by South Africa during the apartheid regime to avoid the international
boycott on weapon deals by physically transporting big cash amounts.
He could as easily have been told that the defaced currency were
abandoned by US forces in Somalia and blackened as a security measure
The trickster then demonstrates the process, by taking out five
bank notes from the container and pouring the chemical liquid in
the sink. He cleans the notes until the stamps disappeared.
Then you are told that unfortunately the National Bank of Nigeria
has forgotten to supply the security company with the adequate
quantity of chemicals to cleanse the entire $25 million.
It would be up to you as the beneficiary to come up with another
$280,000, for another five liters of the cleansing chemical.
More info on Nigerian
Whether you accept their initial invitation or travel to Nigeria
in an attempt to recover your money you are told that a visa will
not be necessary to enter the country. They may then bribe airport
officials to pass you through Immigration and Customs.
Because it is a serious offense in Nigeria to enter without a
valid visa, your illegal entry may be used as leverage to coerce
you into releasing additional funds to them.
If your desire to pursue it wanes you are then pressured or threatened
to provide one or more large sums of money to save the venture.
Unsuspecting victims are intimidated, stripped of their money and
sometimes even killed.
Under an awareness program, federal authorities have even gone
to airports and convinced victims with thousands of dollars in
their possession not to embark on flights that would have eventually
placed them in harm's way. Surprisingly, such warnings occasionally
go unheeded, so convinced are the victims that the deal is genuine.
U.S. Secret Service agents have been assigned on a temporary basis
to the American Embassy in Lagos to locate and rescue potential
victims. In one month alone, in the summer of 1995, agents extricated
seven U.S. victims from Nigeria, though one American was murdered
while pursuing his lost money and numerous other foreign nationals
have been reported as missing.
Held for Ransom
More and more often, reports are appearing of individuals being
held for ransom after first being lured overseas with the promise
of culminating these exceptional business transactions. In July,
2001 the Sunday Times reported on the exploits of a former deputy
mayor who traveled from Northampton to South Africa and was then
kidnapped by the fraudsters.
Luckily he was rescued in an international police operation, but
not before being stripped naked and having a gun held to his forehead
and told he would be shot if he did not pay a £20,000 ransom.
After flying to South Africa to meet his new "business partners" he
was met at the airport by a man and a woman who drove him off in
a car to a rented house to meet a "Mr. Ford". There he
was confronted by two men armed with a pistol and informed they
were holding him prisoner.
Only by alerting his wife of his predicament, in his Polish tongue,
during a call he was allowed, was he able to garner police assistance
in the form of two detectives who flew to Johannesburg to link
up with the South African police.
There telephone traces led the police to a rented house in the
East Rand area of the city where the victim had been held in a
locked room for nearly 48 hours enduring threats of having his
ear cut off and being kneecapped.
As officers began to surround the house, the kidnappers panicked
and drove off, eventually leaving him abandoned by the side of
the road. Three Nigerian men were later arrested as they were about
to collect the ransom money at a bank.
Police had previously rescued a 42 year old Romanian businessman,
Danut Mircea Tetrescu, who was kidnapped ( Nov 9/99 ) and held
in Soweto for a $500,000 ransom after flying from Bucharest in
response to one of the letters.
At that time police arrested seven suspected gang members, five
South Africans and two Nigerians who were being to see if they
were the same people who had kidnapped, and probably killed, Kjetil
Moe, a 65 year old Norwegian millionaire, in September of 1999.
Mr. Tetrescu and Mr. Moe were among at least nine businessmen
known to have fallen victim to this new version of the 4-1-9 scam
which weds Nigerian guile to South African strong-arm tactics.
A Japanese businessman, Kensuke Matsumoto, who managed to escape
his captors without serious injury, ran into a hotel restaurant
in Durban for refuge and to summon the police.
He had been forced to call his son in Japan earlier with the message, "I
have been confined. They will not release me until the money is
paid. Please send $50,000."
Death By Deception
One of the nine, Jean Pierre Li Shing Tat, a Canadian resident
of Mauritius, was found bound and shot twice through the head next
to the motorway south of Johannesburg in June/99. He flew to South
Africa in response to a "419" letter later found at his
home. After a few days his family received a demand for $200,000
but the deal went wrong and he was murdered. Four others had survived
after paying a ransom, and a fifth had been freed by police.
While direct violence leads to several deaths each year from this
crime, there are also several victims, often unreported, who end
up taking their own lives after being roped in to the point of
financial or reputational ruin.
Whether Doug Ambrose, director of finance for WaveCom Electronics
in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan knew he had been duped by the Nigerians
prior to taking his life in July 2001 is open to speculation. What
he did know was that his unauthorized transfer of $105,562 from
the company pension fund account had been discovered and he was
about to be confronted.
Bank officials failed to notice earlier transfers ranging from
$3,600 to nearly $30,000 as they fell below the threshold of observation.
The total amount lost to the scammers has yet to be determined
though it is known that he had wired money for the escalating "expenses
and fees required" to Nigeria, Beirut, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.
Known as a great guy with a spotless record, Ambrose, 44, must
have felt there was no way out of his dilemma even though he was
far from the first, or last, professional to be taken in. One key
requirement of victims is that they must have access to relatively
large amounts of money themselves, either directly or through fiscal
Certain that the "borrowed money" will come back in
multiples, lawyers, accountants, bookkeepers and other financial
trustees represent a large portion of advance fee fraud victims.
Once hooked beyond the ability to repay their clients' or employer's
money they must advance ever further into debt in the deluded hope
that the promises of redemption given them shall eventually come
Hope Bleeds Away
Along with his body, police found a note written by Jerry Stratton,
a 47 year old plumbing contractor from Live Oak, Florida, which
said: "If anything happens to me, look for three people. They
are Nigerians. They are responsible.", after his relatives
telephoned the manager of a British hotel in October (2000).
Police inquiries showed no signs of foul play and the coroner
recorded a verdict of suicide despite his family's belief that
he might have been murdered.
The pathologist said the cause of death was four deep incised
wounds to the left forearm, and one to the right wrist causing
heavy bleeding, though the deceased had taken five times the recommended
amount of an insomnia drug called Nytol.
The inquest was told he had been persuaded by the criminals that
he could expect vast profits from the $10m (£7m) deal and
flew to Britain in a last-ditch attempt to salvage the deal. The
National Criminal Intelligence Service said victims from around
the world are routinely lured to temporary offices in Mayfair,
Stratton had unsuccessfully tried to raise an additional $65,000
(£46,000) from family and friends to keep the deal going.
Relatives became worried when he told them he "had nothing
to come home for".
The con men who disappeared with his money left behind worthless
contracts and "promissory notes" for $50,000 (£35,000).
More Nigerian Victims
In all likelihood, there are many people who do not report their
losses to authorities due to either fear of implicating themselves
in a fraud being committed on the government of Nigeria or because
of the embarrassment from being deceived.
They are often reluctant to cooperate with police because they
believe that they could be prosecuted, either in their own country
or in Nigeria and may also fear reprisals being directed against
them by the organized criminals involved.
Other problems which plague investigations of this nature are
bank confidentiality and the fact that courts are less likely to
empathize with victims if greed was the motivation for falling
for the scam in the first place.
The Nigerian Federal Police have set up a special unit to investigate
the scheme but due to the reluctance of victims to travel to Nigeria,
prosecutions are difficult to institute. The scheme has continued
unabated and cases emanating from Japan are now being reported.
In a bid to outsmart Nigerian police surveillance, some of the
perpetrators are now operating in the nearby Republic of Benin,
Ghana, and Burkina-Faso where foreign nationals now fly into in
compliance with the directives of their Nigerian invitees. Accordingly,
Interpol has now extended its surveillance to these countries,
while alerting their counterparts about the activities of the fraudsters.
Last year, Nigerian Letter Scams constituted the third biggest
consumer fraud on the Internet, trailing auctions and the sale
of merchandise, according to the National Consumer League.
The Secret Service, under its mandate to protect U.S. currency
and financial institutions, has since 1995 been working with the
U.S. Department of Commerce, and Nigerian and other foreign authorities
to try to counter the operations, which range from the crude to
They indicate that they get 13,000 complaints a month from people
who have received the dubious solicitations, about 80% of which
now come by e-mail. In the past three years, the U.S. victims who
have come forward state they have been swindled out of $100 million,
according to the Secret Service, but as most fraud victims are
too embarrassed to come forward this figure likely represents a
tiny fraction of the actual losses.
Nigerian Busts and
419 Buster Network Assists in Arresting Nigerian Check Scam Accomplices
Nigerian Recovery Scams
Reports received by INTERPOL indicate that the criminals are becoming
so brazen and confident that they are contacting earlier victims
of the fraud. Then, posing as Nigerian government officials investigating
the fraud in a so-called attempt to get the victims' money back,
request payment of an up-front fee.
These operations target individuals, businesses, charities, learning
institutions and government departments. They obtain the names
of potential victims from a variety of sources including trade
journals, professional directories, newspapers, and commercial
libraries. They do not target a single company, but rather send
out mailings en masse.
Because it is businessmen and organizations which are targeted,
the losses per incident can range from tens, to hundreds, of thousands
of dollars and are currently estimated at over $1 million per day
in the U.S. alone.
In the UK the average victim is conned out of more than £50,000.
A spokesman for the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) estimated
that £150m is lost to the UK economy every year through this kind
He added that the bigger picture is that this money is often used to
fund more serious, organised crime.
"We know the criminals are involved in heroin trafficking, immigration crime,
vehicle theft and credit card crime," he said.
And, in a further twist, there have been reports of a spoof e-mail being
distributed which claims a probe investigation has been set up by the
Nigerian Government to crack down on the scam.
It reads: "Operation Zero have been commissioned to investigate,
treat and conclude in an accelerated hearing on genuinely reported cases
of advance fee (419) fraud under the criminal code."
In reality, no such probe has been set up. Instead, it is thought to
be rival gangs of conmen who will charge victims to "investigate" their
case. Victims will be fleeced a second time.
Lured by the simplistic and often error-laden correspondence balanced
against the potential for millions, normally astute businessmen
who come from very money-oriented societies vainly believe they
have the business acumen to deal profitably with what they see
as a Third World country, never imagining the complexity and professionalism
of the operation they are up against.
In a new twist they are now targeting charities with the benevolent
desire to help them out through the transmittal of either hidden
riches or a charitable bequest made through the will of a like-minded
God Sent Me
A letter is arriving in Utah mail boxes purportedly from a Mormon
living in Africa. The sender claims to belong to a Latter Day Saints
family that is being persecuted and humiliated because of their
Using phrases like, "my brother," and "God himself
has directed me to you" he also claims to work for the board
of customs in his country and reports that his department made
a huge profit last year.
Not only does he promise to spend 50% of that profit to "support
Mormonism" in his country, he also promises to send $1.5 million
dollars to you. All you need to do is to fax him the bank account
number where you would like to receive it.
One individual, who signed up for my newsletter, (possibly a scammer
trying to keep track of our coverage), responded with the following.
WHY ARE YOU SENDING ME UNSOLICITED MAIL? YOU ARE NO BETTER
THAN THE SCAMMERS.
WHY CAN YOU NOT MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS? THIS IS THE WAY THEY EARN
THEIR LIVING AND IF ANYBODY IS GREEDY ENOUGH TO FALL VICTIM, SO
BE IT. IF AFRICANS ARE SMART ENOUGH TO DUPE THE SO-CALLED "WHITE
CIVILIZATION", ALL WELL AND GOOD.
WHAT BETTER REPARATION FOR ALL THAT THE WHITE MAN INFLICTED ON
THE AFRICANS OVER 100 YEARS AGO WHEN THE BEST OF THE BREED WERE
CUT FROM THEIR ROOTS AND TAKEN AWAY AS SLAVES. WOMEN AND CHILDREN
WERE RAPED, THRASHED AND THROWN INTO THE SALTY OCEAN.
PLEASE MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS AND STAY OUT OF THE PATH OF JUSTICE.
IF YOU ARE A WHITE MAN, MR. LES HENDERSON, I SPIT ON YOU.
BARSEA. bassey effiong Oct 24, 2001
If you build it..
A recent scam originating from Oman offers South Dakota contractors
an opportunity to bid on a $7,000,000 building in Pierre, S.D.
Interested companies are required to send $1,000 in advance to
obtain bid documents. Ultimately, the contractor gets no bid documents
and loses his $1,000 because no building was ever planned.
Fill Me In
One furniture retailer received a phone call from someone who
claimed to be working with the Bank of Nigeria. He said he was
the Director of the International Remittance Department which has
a large facility in Nigeria that is in need of furniture.
It would be a $21,000,000 deal and he wanted to know if she was
interested in bidding on the job. To comply with requirements she
wired him $12,000 for a "refundable" bond.
After sending another $9,000 for other administrative fees they
asked her to come to Nigeria and give them more money as a deposit.
By then she had sent them $21,000 and racked up over a $1,000 in
phone bills towards a non-existent opportunity.
Well, It's Not My Money
Hoping to retire on a Nigerian windfall, the lawyer son of a provincial
Chief Justice has been sentenced to three years in prison instead,
after he made several trips to Africa and poured more than $1 million
of stolen and borrowed money into the fraud.
After he and a client responded to the standard letter and paid
$10,000 requested by the Nigerians to cover "legal fees" they
were promptly informed that "their" Nigerian lawyer had
committed fraud and the money was lost.
Undeterred, he traveled to Ghana and gave them another $7,500.
Then he was taken to a hotel and, in the presence of armed guards,
shown a trunk containing what he was told was $12 million in hundred-dollar
bills, stained with dye. Claiming to have a process which could
remove the dye, they requested money for the rare and expensive
He then proceeded to transfer $225,702 from his clients' accounts
to a London bank to cover the cleaning fluid needed to remove the
dye from the bills. Later, while in Africa, the bottle of fluid
mysteriously exploded and he was pressed to come up with money
The Nigerians' demands multiplied as he tried to establish international
bank accounts to accept the anticipated windfall. He assured his
domestic bank, despite their warnings, that he had conducted research
into Nigerian business scams and that "this" deal was
While stalling for time, as pressure mounted from his clients
for access to their money, he was still developing a plan to have
the windfall money transferred by armoured van and private jet
from Ghana via Latvia.
Eventually, realizing he was duped, he sought police help in recovering
the funds. They, in turn, determined his embezzlement in the affair
and promptly arrested him.
In addition to being ordered to pay back the stolen funds he has
also lost any entitlement to his family inheritance and has begun
Keep The Orders Coming
Like many others, your business is contacted by a company from
Nigeria which is extremely interested in purchasing your products.
Your name was gleaned from a trade magazine.
They promise the prospect of large orders and request samples
of your products prior to approval of the big order. Before you
can begin shipping these large orders they have you send in bogus
registration or import licensing fees.
They send you back numerous documents with official looking stamps,
seals and logo, as well as letters of credit, payment schedules
and authentic bank drafts for smaller orders. This supporting documentation
adds veracity to their claims of legitimacy.
They stress the urgency of their need and ask that you pre-prepare
a large shipment for delivery and send it immediately upon receipt
of their bank draft.
They cleverly start with small orders using proper drafts to lull
you, then wham, you are hit with a big loss when your order is
shipped and long gone, before you realize they have given you a
worthless forgery for payment.
Embassy officials say that 50% of all Federal Express, UPS, and
DHL shipments to Nigeria are returned because of fraud and theft.
For more Information on determining legitimacy contact:
Nigeria Desk Officer/Office of Africa
Room 3317, US Dept. of Commerce
Washington, DC 20230
To help U.S. companies wishing to do trade with Nigeria the Commerce
Department also offers U.S. companies a market-research service
called International Company Profile, which checks the bona fides
of Nigerian individuals or companies or deals.
For many more examples showing the multitude of variations. Nigerian
Links to other fraud sites dealing with
Another source of international trade info is International Trade Web Resources
The U.S. State Department has produced an excellent document on Nigerian
Fraud in PDF format which includes photographs of actual
The Australian Institute of Criminology also has an in-depth document
Scams in PDF format.
Search a comprehensive list of Nigerian scammer pseudonyms along with banking info once you sign up.
The 419 Coalition -
One of the earliest privately run awareness sites.
Things: A numerological perspective of the 419 fraud from
a religious point of view.
Those Lads from Lagos section of the Scamorama site.
Swedish 419 Info.
Anatomy of 419 fraud.
419 Fraud - U.K. based personal site
Scam News Items - List of links
419 / Advance Fee Scam E-mail Letters - collection of examples
419 advance fee fraud with technology.
Wipe Out Nigerian Scams -
WONST - collection of examples
The Tricks of Financial Terrorists - An in-depth look at 419 scams from a Nigerian perspective.