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"Nigeria Scam" not exclusive to Nigeria

There is a well-known scam which is variously known as the ADVANCE FEE SCAM, or the 419 Scam, or the Nigeria Scam. Several examples of this are on show at the Rogues Gallery, and it is something to be very warned about. Don't get caught out by it! If someone sends you an unsolicited message trying to get you to believe that they'll pay you 25% of so-many million dollars if you give them you bank account details, don't be fooled by it. It's a well known scam!

Most of the advance-fee scam messages (about 85% as an estimate) claim to be from Nigeria, but as the following writer points out, the scam is not exclusive to Nigeria...

----- Original Message -----
Harini N
[Many hundreds of recipients]
[a Nigeria Scam sender!]
Sent: Thursday, May 20, 2004 5:55 AM
Subject: Please do something to stop this nonsense

We are having good and trustworthy business friends in Nigeria. We always discuss about this scams and worry about the Nigerians name and future are defamed all over the world because of few people. We are getting almost 5 - 7 letters daily and FED UP with these kinds of Nigerian Scam materials. Why Nigeria ONLY is doing a scam in a massive size and get itself DE-FAMED and laughed at by the RESET OF THE WORLD?

One police officer wrote in an article and accused both the Nigerian Police and the high officials are benefited a lot because of such scams and stressed that it is a child's play to catch these scams because of the latest technology. Bait them and Catch them was his strategy. He also said if this has happened in any other country, this would be over long ago and Nigeria would have saved its PRESTIGE and DIGNITY and RESPECTED by the WORLD.

I WON'T AGREE WITH THIS, BECAUSE BAD PEOPLE ARE EVERYWHERE. Let us do some thing so that the country's name has to be protected at any cost.


A Well-wisher

Let the world community join hands and help our Nigerian people


"A Nigerian Well Wisher"

A good point. The names of some other countries also appear in the scam messages. After Nigeria, the next most frequent are Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Zimbabwe, and a few other African republics. There are also occasional instances of similar messages appearing to come from China, Russia, and a few other places. The Netherlands has a slightly different problem where you are supposed to believe you have won the Netherlands Lottery or some such thing (see Rogues 2). But, although there is a scattering of a few countries where scams originate, Nigeria is by far the world's leading exporter, several times larger than all the others put together. So, I can't see the Nigeria Scam being colloquially renamed "The Sierra Leone Scam" or some such thing. As 85% of the messages purport to come from Nigeria, and the scam is said to be Nigeria's fourth largest export, the country has become associated with it, like "Swiss Cheese" or the way Texas has become associated with OIL.

Of course there are honest Nigerians, and it must be embarrassing for them to have to suffer from the reputation of "the scam". It's not fair for a nation to be typecast.

When the matter was raised with Scamorama who are specialists at the uncovering of this kind of scam, they kindly pointed out that the message in question had been sent to a large number of recipients and had also, strangely, been CCd to someone who the sender had already stated was a scam-sender, so it does leave us wondering?!

However, after receiving a large number of scam messages like a few of the ones at the Rogues Gallery and the much more comprehensive collection at Scamorama I can state with some statistical certainty that MOST of the scams of this type claim to be from Nigeria, and most of the remainder claim to be from a few other specific places. But, wherever they're from, it's important to avoid being fooled by them!