Nigerian email scams otherwise known as ‘Yahoo Yahoo’ and its variants are a major source of spam online, with a large number of internet users receiving scam emails every day. A small percentage of these internet users fall for this scam, which results in the loss of huge amounts of money, which is often very difficult to retrieve, despite tremendous efforts. The Nigerian scam also locally known as Yahoo Yahoo has been emptying the pockets of victims for decades — it started first through letters, then graduated with faxes, and now done via e-mail but this dates back to at least the 1920’s and was known as ‘The Spanish Prisoner’ con. According to FBI Investigation, When you send money to people you do not know personally or give personal or financial information to unknown callers, you are increasing your chances of becoming a victim of telemarketing fraud. In this article, we will discuss in full, some of those lesser-known facts about this type of scam.
10 Facts you Must Know about Nigerian Email Scam
1. Email subject
The email sent has an eye-catching subject which promises easy money, like million dollar inheritance, or unclaimed million dollars to lure the internet user to reading the entire email, enticing him with a promise of large sums of money for helping the person who is seeking assistance.
2. Email content
The email usually is written in a very formal manner, as if drafted by a lawyer or a paralegal. This makes it easier for the recipient to be convinced that the email is genuine, and it is a real business proposal from a person who needs his assistance, not a con man seeking to fleece him of his hard-earned money.
3. Email address for sending
The email address used for sending the email is usually a free email from one of the largest email service providers in the world like yahoo, google, outlook, hotmail, zohomail, rediffmail, indiatimes. These email providers only want to increase the number of users for their service, to increase their advertising revenue, and do not bother to check how the email id is being used or misused.
4. Replies to the emails
Since the sender of the Nigerian scam emails knows that some of the recipients of the mail may complain to the email service provider like Gmail or Yahoo that the email is a spam, they usually ensure that the reply to email is different from the email id used for sending the email. So even if the sender’s email id is blocked, the recipient will still be able to reply to a valid email, increasing the conversion rate.
5. Number of emails sent
Typically thousands of Nigerian scam emails are sent every day to potential victims, by well-organized Nigerian scammer gangs. These gangs know that only a very small percentage of these emails will convert or the recipient will be unable to recognize the spam mail, so they increase the number of emails sent.
6. Conversion rate
Most of these emails end up in the spam filter or are deleted by the majority of internet users, who receive many such emails in a day, and can recognize the emails just by the subject of the email. Typically the person who reads and believes in these emails will be a new internet user, who has no one to guide him or her.
7. Collecting email addresses
Since many email addresses become inactive over a period of time, especially free emails, as the service provider deletes the email accounts from their server, the Nigerian email scammers need a fresh supply of email addresses. These email addresses are obtained by using bots to harvest emails posted online. Every day fresh email ids posted at various websites are collected and used for email marketing by the Nigerian email scammers.
8. Sending Nigerian email scam
The Nigerian email scam is usually sent from a free email service like Yahoo or Gmail to keep the expenses to the minimum, and also to keep the email sender anonymous so that it is difficult to initiate legal action. In some cases, web hosting accounts may be hacked and malware uploaded on to the server to send these spam emails so that the innocent webmaster gets blamed, while the real scammers remain undetected and unpunished.
9. Variants of the emails
There are many variants of the Nigerian email scam, but all emails tell a similar story. Instead of Nigeria, some other western African countries like Ghana may be used for describing the fortune that is available. Alternately the name of a recently deceased foreign leader may be invoked for luring gullible internet users into believing that the offer is genuine.
10. Foreign visits
After the visitor has spent some money, he may be lured into visiting a foreign country to retrieve the rest of the money. For Nigerian scam related emails, in some cases, the victim may also visit Nigeria, and this can be risky as the scammers may trap the victim further.
FBI has the following tips to avoid Nigerian email scam
- If you receive a letter from Nigeria asking you to send personal or banking information, do not reply in any manner. Send the letter to the U.S. Secret Service, your local FBI office, or the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. You can also register a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission’s Complaint Assistant.
- If you know someone who is corresponding in one of these schemes, encourage that person to contact the FBI or the U.S. Secret Service as soon as possible.
- Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as Nigerian or foreign government officials asking for your help in placing large sums of money in overseas bank accounts.
- Do not believe the promise of large sums of money for your cooperation.
- Guard your account information carefully.