Have you heard of the age old Nigerian Prince scam? Sometimes called a 419 scam, these scams promise its victims large sums of money in return for a seemingly small fee. “The 419 scam is an infamous advanced fee fraud tactic that originated in Nigeria and has since spread around the world. The most well-known source for these emails is Nigeria, but they can originate from anywhere. In Nigeria, the crime has become a significant source of income for some, although section 419 of the Nigerian legal code prohibits it (hence the name).”
This particular scam became popular in the 1980’s but goes back as far as the end of the French Revolution.* In this blog post, we want to show you a classic example of a Nigerian Prince scam that was actually sent to one of the Twitter accounts that we manage.
The photo below is a message we received from someone claiming to want to make us the heir to a bank account with millions of dollars in it. Read the message carefully:
Let’s break this message down: You can see how the Twitter account looks bogus, as does the email address. You can also see how the scammer is promising a large sum of money. He is then creating a sense of urgency so that the victim will react quickly without thinking.
If the victim responds, they will then be prompted to transfer their own money for a number of bogus fees associated with the bogus bank account. The scammer promises the victim that they will then receive the money from said bank account. Truth is, the victim will receive no money and they just handed over their own money to a scammer!
While most people will recognize this as a scam, some people will end up falling for it. Today, this type of scam has evolved even further to be more convincing. A few examles include:
1. The Gift Card Scam.
In this scam, a person will receive an email or message from someone pretending to be their boss or someone else in power over them like the IRS asking them to please purchase a certain amount of gift cards. The scammer may say the gift cards are for a company Christmas party to be given as gifts to the employees. Or the scammer may say that the victim owes money and must pay the money immediately to avoid further consequences and can do so via gift cards. Remember, no reputable company or government agency will ever ask for payment via gift cards!
2. CEO Scam
An employee with access to company funds may receive a message from a scammer pretending to be the CEO of the company. The scammer will say that there is an outstanding invoice that needs to be paid immediately, creating a sense of urgency and fear in the employee who does not want to lose their job. That employee may end up paying the fake invoice in order to stay out of trouble. Remember, if a message creates a sense of fear and urgency that is a red flag.
Those are just a couple of examples! There are many more of these scams out there.
So as you can see, Nigerian Prince Scams are far from antiqued and continue to evolve today. Be on your guard and don’t send money to anyone without verifying the source carefully!
*Sources for this blog post: https://www.popsci.com/story/technology/nigerian-prince-scam-social-engineering/.