The 419 Scam is the No1 online dating scam, also called a Nigerian scam, but it comes in many forms and not only from Nigeria.
We have all heard about the “please cash my money order or cheque for x millions and you get 10%” letters and emails, well that is a 419 scam.
You may not fall for the big pay day scams but are you savvy enough to avoid the more subtle Nigerian scams?
419 scams are now so prevelent on the internet that a cyber sport has been developed around it, called scambaiting, which involves people tracking and communicating with scammers to frustrate their efforts.
Ways in which a Nigerian or 419 scam works on internet dating sites:
1. Registering Their Profile on a Dating Site
The first hurdle for a scammer is getting a profile registered with an online dating site.
Go to any of the big free dating sites and you will soon spot a scammers profile, it will be in bad English, have a username ending in something like 4u or 4luv and be gushing about love, marriage, having children and finding soulmates.
These are the new recruits but the experienced scammers are far more savvy.
Also they don’t only join free sites, as this shows, trusted sites like Match also have their share of scammers and these will be the better ones as they are making enough money to join the paid sites.
2. Hooking a Victim
Their first message to you will usually be very complimentary, stating the many things you have in common (just about everything) and supplying their email or chat address.
They want to get you off the website and chatting privately as quickly as possible.
Love will be declared very quickly and soon talk of visiting you and marriage will begin.
They will spend building your trust until they are sure they think you are mentally planning a future together.
Often they will begin to refer to you as their husband or wife, long before you have ever even met (not that you are going to meet but the promises will keep coming).
3. Request for Money
Then it starts and can come in a million forms. The requests for money may start small but will grow with time. Here are some of the more common requests:
- Money to buy a phone card so they can call you (the exchange rate is worth the trouble).
- Enough to buy a webcam so you can see them while you talk.
- A family member is in hospital/trouble and they need to quickly borrow money. They will seem embarrassed to have to ask and make gushing assurances about paying it back.
- Flight, visa or translation fee money (all backed up with a travel agents letter setting out the costs and reasons for requiring cash not direct payment). This is so they can come to be with you .. of course at the last moment there is always a reason they can’t actually travel.
- A request to cash a living allowance cheque and send the cash by Western Union .. gosh their employers screwed up again and they can’t cash it at a local bank.
- Cash to get a works project off the ground, they have the job but can’t afford to buy/hire/transport the equipment and the profits from the job will be huge .. of course they’ll pay you back with interest.
- They have been working abroad and the company went bust/fired them/employer attacked them/etc and they need to get home to UK/US/Germany or wherever.
4. A Reason for Everthing
If you become at all suspicious they will have a reason for everything and because you want them to be genuine it will be easy to fall for their explanations.
You will also they find that if they ask for 850 pounds or dollars and you say you can only let them have 400 they will suddenly find a reason that 400 is just enough to cover or they will get the rest from someone else .. even though two days ago you were the only person in the world that could help them.
Don’t think for a moment that only the gullible fall for the Nigerian scam, we discussed this in the post about what an online dating scam is and there are many examples on the net of ordinary intelligent people falling for these dating scams.
If you think you may be chatting to a scammer and want some support then head on over to forum. They have a database of known scammers, their current email addresses and photos of innocent people the scammers use from the internet.
In my next post I will tell you how to investigate and find out if you are chatting on an online dating site to a 419 or Nigerian scammer.