Dear Friend, Your Inheritance is Waiting: Kaspersky Lab Outlines Most Popular Nigerian Scam Letters

15 Jan 2013

“People still fall for those?!”  Unfortunately, yes, people still fall victim to Nigerian scams, emails sent out typically requesting assistance in cashing out a large sum of money, proposing to split a large share of someone else’s money with the recipient, or telling the recipient that they are due to receive a large inheritance.  But there’s a catch: in order to successfully execute these transactions, the alleged heir needs to first cover some minor costs.  The victim wires over a significant amount of money—sometimes their entire savings account—to pay for these costs only to realize too late that the alleged heir was actually a thief and the whole thing was a scam.

The first Nigerian scam letters appeared in the 1980s and were sent via snail mail.  Now, Kaspersky Lab filters intercept tens of thousands of Nigerian scam letters each month in different languages.  They may be easy to recognize by most, but there’s a reason scammers continue to send Nigerian letters: people do, in fact, fall for them.  Below are some of the most common Nigerian scam letters seen by Kaspersky Lab experts.  Check out the full article for more details. 

The Classic
In this example, the author discusses the death of a loved one, usually his father, and needs the help of a trustworthy person to move his father’s money out of the country.  In this type of letter, the author may make a connection to the latest news as a way to incite sympathy.   

The Lonely Young Heiress
These letters typically target men who are registered with online dating sites.  A young lady has inherited a large estate somewhere in a war-torn country.  Since she is a refugee hiding from her father’s killer, she needs help getting the money out of the bank. 

The Inheritance
Someone else’s inheritance is all well and good, but your own is even better. At least, that seems to be the scammers’ logic behind this type of scam email, which informs recipients of large estates bequeathed to them from previously unknown, wealthy relatives.

The Dead Guy’s Loot
In this version, the person who has died is not a relative, but someone with the same name as the victim. He does not have any living relatives or heirs, nor has he written a will – and sadly it seems that all his vast wealth will go straight to the government. Rather than see the money go to waste, staff at the bank where the estate is held have apparently sought out a potential recipient, someone with the same surname who can claim the cash.

The Philanthropist in Search of a Good Samaritan
Nigerian scam letters are also sent allegedly from wealthy figures on their death beds, looking for just one good and honest soul to whom they can bequeath their entire estate. As a rule, the protagonist of these emails is childless, a millionaire widower or widow.

The Business Proposal
In this letter, an alleged lawyer, accountant or personal assistant to some well-known person needs help: his client’s (or boss’s) money can’t be cashed out in their native country, but it can be transferred abroad to someone’s account. You’ll get 50% of the sum for helping out!

The Mysterious Box Full of Cash
It seems Nigerian scammers think war-torn countries provide an ideal setting for intriguing stories told in emails from soldiers.  In this scenario, a soldier has come across a box full of money and needs help transferring it to a reliable place. 

The Compensation
This letter promises compensation to the unlucky victims of scam or fraud.  The recipient of the email is supposed to quickly get the hint that no one is going to check to make sure this is legit, and he’ll be raking in the cash thanks to a simple government error.