Cyber crime or computer crime is a type of crime that occurs through the internet. This type o f crime has become very common in modern times and many people have been conned money and other valuables. This kind of crime has grown to be high profile to the extent that governments around the world are devising and implementing strategies and policies in a move to curb this kind of crime. Some of the most common types of internet crime include financial theft, fraud, intellectual property theft, industrial espionage, spamming, spread of computer virus, software hacking among others (Grabosky, 2006).
This paper will review the Nigerian Money Scams also called Advanced Fees Fraud or 419 Scams. The Nigerian scam is one of the most popular types of internet scam around the globe. It has been described as the widest ranging, cleverly planned and bizarre fraud schemes in the world in the recent years. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Interpol and Scotland Yard describe it as preposterous, amateurish and plainly crude (Lohr, 1992). The scam involves the sending of bogus letters with a promise of big pay offs.
The target of this fraud usually receives an Email that claims to be from Nigeria or another West African country. Initially its target was businessmen but these days, the target also includes average citizens due to the low cost associated with email communication and transactions. The content of the email includes an illegal proposal, a money laundering proposal or a legitimate and legal business proposal. It includes offers of help whereby the sender wants some assistance in shipping out oil from Nigeria, romance, some supposedly deposited money in your account, a bequest left a will in your name.
Others include claims overpayment of a contract by the Nigeria Government and therefore a need of a front man to get the overpayment out of Nigeria or an invite to transfer a huge amount of money, usually in US Dollars to your personal offshore account (Nigerian scams, 2000). After the recipient of this message responds positively, the sender then proceeds to advice him what else he requires to do. The purpose of the initial letter is to set the stage and is considered the opening ground to test the waters.
Goal of the criminal The main intention of the criminal is to confuse you into thinking that whatever you are being drawn into is a lucrative business opportunity and a highway into instant riches. Even though, the arrangement appears questionable but very few people look at it that way. Therefore the first letter makes sure that the recipient is left with no doubts and that he or she is assured, and confident of the fact that the deal will be very success and that he is not in no way risking himself or herself.
The allegations presented by these scammers are in such a way that you will be naturally cautious but deep down you, you will be praying softly and wanting hopefully that the deal is genuine. Another element associated with these emails is a sense of urgency (Gill, 2005). Either that the government is closing in or that the job of the sender is at risk. Therefore, his request is that the deal may be closed as son as possible. Their methodology is that they make sure that the recipient of the mail counts him or herself lucky because he has been singled out from billions of people the world over.
And so as much as this deal may look suspicious, the receipt is left with the urge of gaining millions of shillings for doing what? Absolutely nothing. Even to the most skeptical people, they take the next step or sending an email, which will not cost you any risk at all and in return, might make you a multi millionaire. The feeling that being a rich man is only an email away is what makes people respond to this mail. After making that call or sending the email, the sender pleads with you to make this as secret as possible because he or she is taking a great risk in communicating with you.
He emphasizes on the secrecy in that any disclosure might lead to the transaction of the transfer of funds being incomplete. As the recipient, you don’t see any harm in maintaining secrecy, confidentiality, utmost sense of purpose and maturity as it is what it will be asked of you by the sender (Lohr, 1992). After this communication, documents actually arrive to you. Official documents from the central bank of Nigeria together with documents from the firm of your newly appointed Nigerian lawyers. This is what convinces most people of the authenticity of the proposal as they contain the Nigerian Government Letter head (Gill, 2005).
After you are satisfied of the authenticity of the transaction, you are then asked to pay some money to cater for unexpected taxes or contract fees demanded by the central bank of Nigeria, transfer of funds fees or fees to cater for the attorneys acting on your behalf. The sender assures you that those are things that he is not in control of. For example, he may tell you that the lawyers want 5% of the whole money or $200,000 in advance in order to continue with the transfer. Being a wise person, you smell a rat and say no way.
It is then after sometime that the sender contacts you again and tells you that he has been able to negotiate with the lawyers and they have brought down their fees to say $100,000. He convinces you that it is nothing compared to what you two are going to gain. But since you are a wise person, you say no way (Lohr, 1992). It is then that he calls you again and tells that even though he is a poor guy, he is ready to sell his only house to raise $30,000 if you are in a position of raising the rest. He cannot forget to remind you that it is a loan he has advanced to you and that you will refund it to him once you receive the money.
Here, you see the commitment and you ultimately send the money and you wait for your cash. You even start planning for holiday. After two days, you are informed that there have been some few problems and that the inside man is asking for a small bribe. After paying the initial amount, you become the ultimate milk cow. More requests start coming your way for you to send in more money. At this juncture, you are faced with two options: either send more money as demanded or risk loosing the promised millions and the money you have already sent.
In this way, you are a prey and tens or even hundreds of dollars may be swindled from you (Gill, 2005). Each amount of money that you send is regarded as the last amount but eventually, there rises some ‘temporary difficulties’, ‘errors’ or ‘complications’ that you are prompted to solve. This may go on for months until you run out of money or until you give up. But these scammers will not stop there. If you show signs of giving up, they remind you of the ultimate prize awaiting you. The asking of these “advance fees” is the ultimate objective of this scam.
That’s why it is referred to as the Advance Fees Fraud (Gill, 2005). Once a victim has sent in more and more cash, he gets hooked up to the scam and the more he believes that it is not a scam but that it is a real deal. The denial of most victims that they have been conned is what drives them to make just one more payment and their windfall happens (Nigerian Scams, 2000). There are even instances whereby one is invited to Nigeria and you are taken through real or fake government offices. The fake government offices include many government support staff and you are left with no doubt.
In some instances, victims have confessed going to the directory, looking up the number of the alleged government officiate and finding it there. On calling, it is received by the very same person who he has been in contact with. There are some victims who have been invited to go to Nigeria. They are told that a Visa is not necessary and in that case, they bribe an airport official for you to enter Nigeria. On entering you are told that it is illegal to be in Nigeria without a passport (which is true) and this is used to coerce more money from you (Lohr, 1992). Mechanism to discourage these crimes
The federal bureau of investigations has but in some mechanisms in bid to stop these fraudsters. The FBI has warned the public to be wary and not fall into this trick. In this regard, the public has been warned to be skeptical of any email or letter from persons claiming to be Nigerian government officials or any other foreigner asking for help with regard to transfer of large sums of money. The public has also been advised not to believe in the promise of large sums of money once they cooperate (FBI, 2010). Many countries have put in legislations that require citizens to report any form of 419 emails.
In general, the governments all over the world are committed to ending this vice. There have also been developments of Internet Technologies which aim at stemming the advancement of the Nigerian Advanced Fee Fraud scams. Through the use of this technology, law enforcement officers are in a position to cooperate internationally and therefore are able to track these scammers, obtain the necessary evidence and prosecuting them (Lohr, 1992). References FBI. (2010). Internet Fraud. Retrieved August 19, 2010 from http://www. fbi. gov/majcases/fraud/internetschemes. htm. Gill, P. (2005). About. Com. The Top ten internet/ Email Scams.
Retrieved August 19, 2010 from http://netforbeginners. about. com/od/scamsandidentitytheft/ss/top10inetscams. htm Grabosky, P. (2006). Electronic Crime, New Jersey: Prentice Hall http://www. nytimes. com/1992/05/21/business/nigerian-scam-lures-companies. html. Lohr, S. (1992). Nigerian Scam’ Lures Companies. Nigerian Advanced Fee Fraud Detection, Education, Eradication. The New York Times. Retrieved August 19, 2010 from http://www. nextwebsecurity. com/ Nigerian scams. (2000). Schemes, Scams and frauds. Retrieved August 19, 2010 from http://www. crimes-of-persuasion. com/Crimes/Business/nigerian. htm.