Nigerian scammers have no hearts. They’ll scam you out of as much money as possible, even if you’re broke, lonely, battling a life-threatening illness, or anything else that would win sympathy from a normal person.
Now the scammers are showing that they can sink to new lows. They target people who previously fell for their scams, claiming that they’ll help them get their money back.
I was shocked when these “We’ll help you claim your rightful fund” emails started flooding my spam box. Some claimed to be from official agencies like the FBI or the United Nations. Their basic story says that they’ve arrested the scammers who’ve been taking your money without giving you the millions of dollars they’ve promised. Now you just need to send a “processing fee” and the “officials” will make sure that it gets to you.
How to Recognize this Scam
The emails are written in English that’s just as bad as all the other scam messages, with the grammar errors, misspellings and other big red flags that English is not the writer’s native language. The email address might incorporate “FBI” or “UN” in some way, but it goes to a free domain like Hotmail, Gmail, or Yahoo.
Another variation of this attempt to rip off victims twice is a message from a “barrister” or a supposed bank official who claims to have discovered that a colleague is ripping you off. Of course, this person will really help you, as long as you’re will to pay for some paperwork or whatever bogus charges he thinks he can trick you with.
Casting a Wide Net
Sometimes this scam is targeted directly at people who have been conned in the past. Scammers share victim lists, and some simply write to their previous victims under a new identity. They’ll claim they have all your information because they checked the original scammer’s emails when they arrested him.
However, the emails are often scatter-shot, sent to every possible email address in the hope that it will randomly reach some naive victims. I’ve never fallen for a scam, yet they appear in my spam box almost daily.
These emails make amusing reading if you’re not the type to fall for Nigerian scammers. Unfortunately, some people are gullible, and if they’ve lost thousands of dollars they might be desperate enough to cling to any hope of getting their big pay-off, even if it means sending more money to a stranger they’ve never met.
If you’re among the victims, do not fall for this new scam. The odds are almost 100 percent that your money is gone for good, so the best thing to do is report the crime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
And no, the IC3 won’t send you an email from a free email provider offering to help you collect your money. It forwards information to appropriate federal, state, and local officials for follow-up. If you get a suspicious email naming the IC3 or any other government or international agency, just hit “delete.”