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September 2, 2008

Nigerian Official Blame Scam Victims

I am sure you have received one of those e-mails that starts out “Dear Sir or Madam”. The letter that follows usually goes on to detail someone that needs your money. There is a request for funds and an urgent need to get them to Nigeria. There are, of course, scam e-mails from other countries as well but the Nigerian ones seem to clog up my inbox more than others.

So what does the Nigerian government think about these scams? Well, they say that they frown very seriously on them but also, that anyone that partakes in them should be jailed. The Sydney Morning Herald was doing an article on Australians that have fallen for such scams and lost money. The Nigerian government says that anyone that sends money for such scams is just as guilty as those that run the scams.

Only 0.1 percent of the people that live in Nigeria run e-mail scams. There were also 419 scams that were used before the Internet. However, since the web has taken over, there has been a huge boom of instant money transfers. The way that the scam works is victims get an e-mail that has some story about how there was some mistake and the victim is now entitled to an overpayment. The difference is supposed to be wired back to the scammer. Once the victims deposit the phony check it bounces and they are out of a lot of money. They have already wired the difference so the scammer makes money. The victim is then out of a lot of money.

There are some victims that never learn. They continue to follow the instructions of the scammers, in hopes that they will get paid back at some point. Sometimes the scammer will romantically woo the reader into continuously sending them money. It is hard to believe but many men and women have fallen for such scams.

This is not a problem that is specific to Nigeria. In fact, these types of scams happen all over the world, including the U.S. and Canada. However, the fact that a good number of them have been coming out of Nigeria is an issue. Other African nations also have these types of scams going on frequently. The amount of scams coming out of Nigeria makes it stand out and casts the country in a negative light.

The fact that the Nigerian government wants to blame the victims is also another knock against the country. Making the statement that the government does not support such scams is one thing. Blaming the victims is just what they should not do. Yes, people must be cautious when they receive suspicious e-mails but the people that send them are the ones to blame. They are the criminals, not the people that are not suspicious enough to ignore them. There are a lot of desperate people out there that need money. Even a far fetched scheme might be intriguing for someone that really needs the money.

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