Washington State Department of Financial Institutions

Consumer Alert

Email and Postal Alert: Don't Fall for the Nigerian Advance Fee Scam

August 22, 2005

The Nigerian Advance Fee Scam continues to draw in victims even though it’s been around for a long time. View the U.S. Secret Services’ website for tactics Nigerian scam artists use to lure victims.

How It Works

This scam often involves the receipt of an unsolicited letter (via regular mail or e-mail) from someone who claims to work for the Nigerian Central Bank or the Nigerian government. In the letter, a Nigerian banker or civil servant tells the recipient that he is seeking a reputable foreign company’s bank account. He claims that he needs the account to deposit funds (often ranging from $10-$60 million) that the Nigerian government overpaid on a procurement contract. In return, the recipient is promised a percentage of the total amount deposited. False Nigerian government documents and bank drafts are often used to make the deal look legitimate.

Unfortunate Outcomes

Once the victim becomes confident of the potential success of the deal, something goes wrong. The scam artist pressures or threatens the victim into providing money to save the venture. The victim is usually asked to travel to Nigeria or a border country to complete the transaction. The scam artist may tell the victim that a visa will not be necessary, and then bribes an airport official to pass the victim through Immigration and Customs. The victim’s illegal entry into the country is then used as leverage to coerce more money from the victim.

Recommendations

Avoid these scams like the plague! Don't let promises of large amounts of money tempt you into making decisions you will regret.

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