Nigerian scams are elaborate ruses to separate you from your money. That’s the bottom line. Here are two examples:
One version of the scams preys on your good nature via email. It might talk about needing “absolute confidentiality” and governments or churches that need to get cash out the country. They’ll offer you money for your help -- big money. You just need to pay an upfront fee -- which you’ll never see again.
In another version, they’ll ask you for your bank-account information so that all of their millions can be held safely in your bank account. You’ll be paid, of course, they say. But how long do you think your money will stay in your account once you give them your account number?
The National Crime Prevention Council has a file with hints to help identify Nigerian scams. Beware if emails ...
- Claim to be from a foreign government or church.
- Ask for your help.
- Insist on confidentiality.
- Identify you by name.
- Ask for your banking information.
- Have a sense of urgency to act immediately.
- Promise to give you money for your help.
Some of the scams are very good, which is why so many people fall for them. But with a little investigation and a lot of suspicion, you can avoid these scams and hold on to your money.
Ask yourself: How did they get your name and address? Likely it came from a database of seniors.
To arm yourself with more information, go to the FBI’s website at www.fbi.gov/ and click on Scams & Safety. Look for Common Fraud Schemes.
Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible. Write to her in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to email@example.com.
(c) 2011 King Features Synd., Inc.