“Nigerian Prince” email scams are as old as the Internet, yet despite advances in spam detection and an increasingly tech savvy population, consumers are still taken in by these fraudulent schemes. Data from the Better Business Bureau indicates that Americans lose nearly a million dollars each year because of their inability to spot a phony Nigerian money exchange scam from the unsolicited investment opportunity of a lifetime.
Here are several common sense strategies to avoid being ripped off and ensure your capital is put to work repatriating untold riches held hostage by incompetent beauracrats and government red tape.
1. Verify the email’s country of origin
The first thing you should do after recovering a Nigerian Prince email from your spam folder is verify that the sender’s email address matches the “top-level domain” (TLD) of the country whose monarchical business interests they claim to represent. Nigeria’s TLD is “.ng”, which some fraudsters may cleverly embed within the username (e.g. “[email protected]”) — versus a legitimate email that would look something like “[email protected]”.
2. Speak to a representative on the phone
If the opportunity is real, you should absolutely expect to speak to the principal players. Scammers will cut their losses if you request a phone conversation, as they are unlikely to have the scaled infrastructure to handle large call volume, whereas the royal family of Nigeria will almost certainly have a dedicated call center with professional staff to answer all of your questions.
3. Insist on investing the full amount
Most phishing scams will request that you transfer a modest amount to increase the likelihood of you completing the transaction. As a savvy investor, you should ascertain the funds required to maximize your return and insist they accept a lump sum payment for the full amount. This will signal to any potential fraudster that you are not messing around, and that they’d be far better served abandoning their scam and returning to you with a legitimate opportunity.
4. Always get a receipt
Email is fine.