'Nigerian' scams continue to be profitable

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Even after all these years, people still give money to email scammers.

The so-called ‘Nigerian’ scams have been going on for years and pre-date email. Some of you might remember getting letters and then faxes offering a commission on some large sum in exchange for helping get the money offshore. We’ve talked about these scams in Office Watch and Email Essentials for a long time as have many media outlets.

Despite all that, people are still getting fooled and wasting millions of dollars chasing a non-existent ‘pot of gold’. Down in Australia, the Queensland police force estimates that over $4 million is sent to fraudsters every year from that state alone. The victims are sometimes doctors, lawyers and investment advisers.

While the scams are called ‘Nigerian’ or ‘419’ scams, they have spread to other countries including Spain and Canada.

Even more amazing is the trouble police have in convincing people they’ve been fleeced. “One of the biggest issues we have faced is convincing people that they are a victim” said a senior officer from ‘Operation Echo Track’ a special unit established to monitor Nigerian scams. Victims often refuse to believe police and continue to pay money despite assurances that the whole thing is a con.

The QLD police, like many other government agencies, have a web page on the scams. What’s interesting about their site is the sample documents at the bottom. You can see some of the ‘authorized’ documents and ‘contracts’ used to fool people into parting with money.

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