You’ve received a ton of these emails in either your junk or your spam folder. Scam emails claiming to be from Nigerian royalty who needs your help and (temporarily) needs some money. The con is so widespread that the Federal Trade Commission even has a webpage warning people about it:
These messages are the butt of late night jokes, but people still respond to them. The people behind these messages claim to be officials, businesspeople, or the surviving spouses of former government honchos in Nigeria or another country whose money is tied up temporarily. They offer to transfer lots of money into your bank account if you will pay the fees or “taxes” they need to get their money. If you respond to the initial offer, you may receive documents that look “official.” They may even encourage you to travel to the country in question, or a neighboring country, to complete the transaction. Some fraudsters have produced trunks of dyed or stamped money to try to verify their claims.
Of course, these scammers are just trying to steal your money and your identity. It seems a bit ridiculous, but sadly a lot of people fall for the elaborate ruse.
Law enforcement officials recently arrested a key cog in the Nigerian prince operation…and he ain’t no Nigerian.
The man arrested is Michael Neu of Slidell, Louisiana. The 67-year-old Neu is charged with 269 counts of wire fraud and money laundering. An 18-month investigation brought Neu down, but he’s obviously just a role player in a much larger criminal enterprise. All signs point to an operation being directed from overseas, and Neu served as a middleman for Nigerians.
The State Department says that not only have people lost a lot of money if they fall for these scams, some have been beaten, threatened, and even murdered. Be careful of who you correspond with online, and if you get any emails from a “Nigerian prince,” delete immediately!