Tips and Tricks

10 Things about Nigerian Scams That You Might Not Know

Do you want a piece of a multi-million dollar fortune? Would you be willing to pay, say, a few hundred dollars in upfront banking costs to receive it? Math aside, it’s probably a very bad idea.

10 Things about Nigerian Scams That You Might Not Know A typical Nigerian scam combines impersonation with advance fee scams offering a percentage of some fabulous fortune. The Nigerian scam, now so famous even mom knows about it, still accounts for some of the highest losses per incident of all reported e-threats. Many scams aren’t even reported because victims are so ashamed of falling for this trick that they prefer to suffer in silence.

Here are 10 things about Nigerian scams that you might not know:

1. Nigerian scams are also referred to as 419 scams after the number of a Nigerian Criminal Code article that tackles fraud.

2. Don’t blame Nigeria! These fraudsters are rarely actually Nigerian. The latest data show that 61 per cent of Nigerian scammers were actually in the US, while 16 per cent are UK-based. Only 6 per cent or so are actually from Nigeria.

3. Nigerian scams pre-date the Internet. Scammers started out via fax and traditional mail.

4. The more ridiculous the Nigerian scam, the more likely it is to succeed, according to a 2012 Microsoft study. Cyber-crooks say they are Nigerian and need help to transfer millions of dollars as a sort of gullibility filter. It weeds out the suspicious majority so scammers can spend their time only on the easiest of targets.

5. Nigerian scammers are also familiar with the law of probabilities. One con artist estimated that he normally received about seven replies from the 500 e-mails he sent every day. When he received a reply, he was 70 per cent certain he would get the money he asked for.

6. Nigerian scams are lately part of more elaborate Internet tricks, according to the Internet Crime Complaint Center. E-mails that directly spoof the name of FBI Director Robert Mueller include elements of Nigerian scam letters, incorporating get-rich inheritance scenarios, lottery winning notifications and extortion e-threats.

7. Some of the “Nigerians” really do have a fortune! After their scams, that is. Ayodele Abrahamm Saliu was arrested in May 2012, while he was trying to leave South Africa. He was sought in the US in 11 cases on charges of wire fraud, bank fraud, computer intrusion and identity theft. His scams inflicted losses of $500,000.

10 Things about Nigerian Scams That You Might Not Know 8. No President of the United States has ever been known to take part in a Nigerian scam. In 2008, a woman working as a nurse and part-time reverend lost $400k to a Nigerian scam. She grew suspicious at some point but was persuaded to keep stuffing scammers’ bank accounts at the urging of “the President of Nigeria, FBI Director Mueller and President Bush.” Apparently, she didn’t check if the IP address traced back to the White House.

9. If you think people are more security-aware now than four years ago, think again. Only a week ago, a California woman lost $300,000 after falling for (and in love with) a Nigerian scammer on dating site

10. Nigerian scams can also be lethal. If victims accept an invitation to meet government officials in their country, they may end up abducted or even killed. George Makronalli, a 29-year-old Greek, was killed after being lured to South Africa. And Norwegian millionaire Kjetil Moe was murdered in 2000 by Nigerian scammers.

10 Things about Nigerian Scams That You Might Not Know Don’t send personal information to people you don’t know, particularly banking details. To be sure, don’t give that data to people you know, either! Be skeptical of any “reputable businessman” or “foreign government official” asking for your help. Not even a reinforced antivirus solution protects people from excessive gullibility.

About the author


Bianca Stanescu, the fiercest warrior princess in the Bitdefender news palace, is a down-to-earth journalist, who's always on to a cybertrendy story. She's the industry news guru, who'll always keep a close eye on the AV movers and shakers and report their deeds from a fresh new perspective. Proud mother of one, she covers parental control topics, with a view to valiantly cutting a safe path for children through the Internet thicket. She likes to let words and facts speak for themselves.


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  • seriously , you might have a point on Nigerian Scam but … I would tell you me being in a Nigeria and in IT Sec industry for long , Nigerians don’t do what some other countries do like India , Romania , Russia , Argentina ,Ukrainians, When you are writing an Article next time , you should not start criticizing a country of 150Million People , i have seen situations where Cameroonians claim Nigerians and they are fraudsters , i find this article offensive and trying to mess a my country’s name as a whole , while some Romanians whom i did investigate privately made millions of Dollars on Ebay , and most American sites , when writing this kind of article don’t just criticize a country and term it Nigeria scam ..the head light of your article doesn’t make sense , can you come and write an article on American as a of being Scam artist , As they have displayed in Libya , Egypt ? can you? Can you say British as a nation is full of shit and scam?? why dont you write about G. Bush for sending Americans to war as a scam?? Can please Make your article right .. Even though a country has few scammers and you write and article criticizing a country of 150Million people , are trying to say 150Mil people are scam artiste???? The fact is Nigeria as a country corruption is a major issue , why dont you try and do some research about Nigerian Politicians Paving ways with Nigerians Money to European countries , America to bank some of this ill gotten money and your countries being good and being seen as civil still accepts stolen money from tax payers .. why dont you do research and ask your politicians why they still accepts this 3rd world leaders ill gotten Money , why do they still allow them buy houses in with Tax payers money , why dont you write an article of such .. I am a true Nigerian and i wont allow you to criticize all Nigerians because of a few Nigerians .. Make your article right

  • Multumiri pentru sistematizare!
    Sigur ca stiam, in general, ba chiar si de varianta ce precedea internetu, prin 1994 un vecin care avea firma a primit prin fax o astfel de scrisoare (la vremea respectiva nu se putea vorbi de Internet la noi in tara).
    Mi se pare excelent rezumat al situatiei afirmatia din final, ca nciun fel de solutie antivirus avansata nu te poate feri de excesul de incredere in persoane necunoscute!

  • Hello James, thanks for your very interesting comment! :) I’m sure that if you read the entire article, you will find the explanation behind the “Nigerian” name. I also wrote:
    2. Don’t blame Nigeria! These fraudsters are rarely actually Nigerian. The latest data show that 61 per cent of Nigerian scammers were actually in the US, while 16 per cent are UK-based. Only 6 per cent or so are actually from Nigeria.
    How is this offending to the whole country ?
    I have been a journalist for some time now. I could never judge such a beautiful country by the name of a scam. I also write often about Romanian fraudsters, but this doesn’t make Romania the Fraud country. Just as Nigeria and other countries, we have brilliant IT staff working on software appreciated worldwide.