Conning people from around the world to send them money is a big industry in Nigeria.
They do this by promising a very large sum of money – an inheritance, money locked up by the government, a donation or some other variant on the idea. They send out millions of spam emails promising a fortune and people are sucked into the scam and end up sending money to Nigeria – a fee for processing the fortune or a release fee to the Police etc.
The victim pays and pays until they eventually realise they won’t ever see the fortune, which of course does not exist.
But surely people know of these scams and can’t be taken in anymore?
Yes they can. The scammers change their message enough and send it out to more millions of people and the scam continues. In some parts of Nigeria it is a badge of honour to make money from people and give nothing in return.
A recent variant of the scam claims to be from the Secretary-General of the United Nations. It explains that he has been tasked with cleaning up the corruption in Nigeria and stopping the scammers. Apparently he is working with the Nigerian Police, special FBI and CIA agents in Nigeria and has managed to apprehend numerous scammers.
Then comes the interesting part – he has been authorised to make payments of $5 million to each person on a scam list and guess what? My name is on that list. Hence I will receive $5 million.
It instructs me not to make any payments to Nigerian Police or anyone else in Nigeria.
To release the funds I just need to pay a UN clearance fund fee to his office at the UN.
This is a creative way to try to get around the bad press that Nigerian 419 scams are getting.
The whole thing is of course a scam. There is no $5 million – just payments to clever scammers.