Although it may seem as if the Nigerian letter scam only began in earnest with the invention of email, in fact, the Nigerian email scam of today is just a variation of a scam that is more than four hundred years old when it was called “the Spanish Prisoner con.” At that time, a letter was sent to the targeted victim purportedly from someone on behalf of a wealthy aristocrat who was imprisoned in Spain under a false name. The identity of the nobleman was not revealed for security reasons, but the victim was asked to help raise money to obtain the release of the aristocrat, who, it was promised, would reward the money-contributing victim with great sums of money and, in some versions of the con, the Spanish prisoner’s beautiful daughter in marriage.
In the present day incarnations of this scam, you receive an email in which you are promised great sums of money under various guises such as assisting a Nigerian in his effort to transfer money out of his country. Other variations include the movement of embezzled funds by corrupt officials, a dying gentleman who wants to make charitable gifts or a minor bank official who is trying to move the money of deceased foreigners out of his bank without the government taking it. The email which I received recently and is copied below deals with undisclosed reasons for transferring money outside of the country.
What all of these scams have in common is that as soon as you contact the scammer, they start asking you to provide money for a variety of purposes and regardless of how much money you pay, you never receive anything.
Here is a copy of the email I recently received:
I have a business proposal which concerns the transfer of ($13.5
Million US Dollars) into a foreign account. Everything about this
transaction shall be legally done without any problem. If you are
interested to help me, I will give you more details as soon as I
receive your positive response. You will be entitled to 40%, and 60%
will be for me,. If you are willing to Work with me, send me your
reply Immediately with your Age and your Nationality and your Name
and your Occupation and your Private Telephone Numbers?Thanks
Mr. Abdoul Issouf
BOA (D.R.T) Bank Of Africa”
Although it should be apparent to everyone who reads this email that it is a scam, the very outrageousness of the email is most likely intentional because as more people become aware of the Nigerian letter scam, the scammers do not want to waste their time on potential victims who may be skeptical of their scam, so they often send out emails like these that are so ridiculous in an effort to catch only the most gullible and greedy. Also note that the salutation does not even indicate to whom the email is being sent. Instead, the lazy scammer merely addresses it as “Dear Good Friend” Never reply to emails such as this. If you receive a particularly inventive or interesting Nigerian email, please share it with us here at Scamicide.