A gullible person might set up a new bank account and send the scamsters these details. The scamsters might even send a check of a few thousand dollars just to prove their credibility. The victim will be satisfied with the check clearing just after a week in his account, only to discover weeks later that it is a bogus deposit for which the bank holds him, and not the scamsters, responsible.
Now starts the game of advance fee requirements. Victims will be given sob stories about how bribes have to be paid to the government agents and attorneys and about the numerous costs involved in procuring the legal documents. If the victim balks at giving out such sums, the scamsters will convince him through numerous e-mails and telephone calls how the sum to be paid is a pittance compared to the final earnings. Once a victim gets trapped in this game, he’ll keep paying more and more hoping to see the deal through and get returns on his investment.
A victim is faced with the prospect of either losing all his initial payments or paying even more fees, hoping for the big payoff. In this way, hundreds of thousands of dollars may be swindled.
To give the deal more legitimacy, the victim may be invited to Nigeria to finalize the transfer of funds. Here the game becomes dangerous. Many victims, who went to Nigeria in the hope of recovering the money lost, have never returned home again.
The scamsters may bribe immigration officials to facilitate one’s entry into the country. The victim’s illegal entry may then be used as leverage to force him into giving additional money to them. Unsuspecting victims have been threatened, stripped of their money and sometimes, even killed.
There has been a rise in cases of individuals being lured overseas with the hope of getting the promised money, and then being held for ransom.
In July 2001, The Sunday Times reported the story of a former deputy mayor who traveled from Northampton to South Africa hoping to get his hands on a fortune, only to end up getting kidnapped by the scamsters.
Thanks to an international police operation, he got out of this situation alive, but not before being stripped naked, having a gun held to his forehead and being told that he would be shot dead if the ransom of £20,000 were not paid.
It was pure luck that he was able to alert his wife of his dilemma, speaking to her in Polish, during a call he was allowed to make.
Hundreds of such true accounts can be found on the net, all telling the same basic story – the lure of making some quick cash, and how it all turns upside-down.
How to avoid falling into the trap?
A simple two word answer – Common Sense. One should ask himself or herself just how likely some oppressed wealthy foreigner would be to contact him or her through a random e-mail message offering a huge sum of money.
Inspite of this, there have been cases of educated, well-to-do people falling into the trap laid by these scamsters and losing large amounts of money, or worse, putting themselves into life-threatening situations.
So, whether it be greed, opportunism or even, entrepreneurial spirit that leads people to believe these fake emails, one should always think twice before replying back to such mails with their personal details and becoming a pawn in this game.