When you mention Nigerian scams, most people think of the 419 scam. However there are a variety of Nigerian scams, and the scammer is not always based in Nigeria or a West African country.
Most people link Nigerian scams to the advance fee fraud or 419 scam that tries to trick victims into parting with their money by persuading them that they will receive a substantial benefit in return for a modest payment in advance.
However there are several other forms of Nigerian scams and the scammer isn't always based in Nigeria. In the last few years some expatriate Nigerians have set up operations in Britain, Australia, United States, Hong Kong, Canada, Japan as well as other African countries so the business has international dimensions now.
If you reviewed the background of Nigeria, it has created a scenario in which unsuspecting people could be persuaded that funds located in Nigeria needed to be moved to Western countries in order to prevent them from being confiscated.
As an example, during General Sani Abacha's regime, billions of dollars were taken from the national treasury. The family of General Abacha have recently handed back $750 million worth of currencies taken from state funds and these have since been deposited in the Central Bank of Nigeria [Times 1998].
One of the forms of Nigerian scam involves victims being informed of the existence of loads of bank notes which have been coated with a mixture of Vaseline and iodine in order to disguise their identity from the authorities. Victims are shown the money and told a special compound can be used to 'wash' the money. Only a few real blackened U.S. $100 notes are shown and washed in front of the victim using ordinary cleaning fluid.
The remaining material in the case is blank, blackened paper. The victim is asked to provide between U.S.$50,000 - U.S.$100,000 for a large amount of the cleaning fluid. After the advance fee has been received, the chemicals are not delivered and the victim is left with a suitcase full of worthless paper.
The main Nigerian scams tend to fall under the 419 scam, the Nigerian dating scam, the reshipping scam and the Craigslist/auction scam. In general, the Nigerian scams are based on one of the following:Defraud the government of 'forgotten' or former regime accounts, transfer of funds from over-invoiced contracts and government employees, assistance escaping the country with loads of wealth, sale of crude oil [or other commodities] at below market prices, money laundering, forgotten accounts, lottery winnings, gifts or bequests to charitable or religious organisations that have an overpayment element or 'fees' to release the money, transfer of funds of now defunct businesses, purchase of real estate, chemicals to clean large amounts of money, wills, inheritances and death bed claims of wealth and fake job offers where rebate required for overpayment of wages. The sender of the Nigerian scams is usually: a senior civil servant from a department such as the Federal Tenders Board, the Nigerian Petroleum Corporation, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Finance or the Nigerian Export Promotion Council Nigerian royalty or a political insider such as the son of the President of Nigeria, or a Nigerian prince or princess, an auditor or accountant with connections to Nigerian officials, a relative or confidante of a deposed leader, a Nigerian lawyer or businessman with a title such as Dr, Barrister or Chief.
The money required in the Nigerian scams is usually to cover:fees and deed stamps, transaction fees or bribes, attorney fees, gifts, export or insurance fees to move the money to a foreign bank account, stamp duty, fees for signing, audits and VAT, Anti-terrorist certificate or drug free certificate fees and registration fees, transfer taxes or licensing fees.
Regardless of the story or the characters, the theme is much the same. You are offered the opportunity to help someone move money from one location to another, and in return, you will be rewarded handsomely.
Remember: Request for money from someone you don't know + distance = fraud. Do not provide your bank account details to anyone you don't know and trust, and no matter how trustworthy they may seem, DO NOT SEND THEM MONEY.