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Those Wacky Nigerians

August 13th, 2009

Apparently, the scammers who seem to abound in Nigeria must be slowly catching on to the fact that their con involving Nigerian oil ministers and $10 million stuck in bank accounts which need your kind assistance is getting a bit stale. Maybe it’s because once nearly every person on the planet have received more than 100 variations of the same scam letter, it becomes a bit of a cliché.

So now the scammers have come up with a surprisingly clever step-up, where they scam people for much larger amounts–$700 a pop–in a much more believable scam than the Nigerian-prince-down-on-his-luck story.

The new scam: they list an apartment on Craigslist, one that looks like a great bargain, explaining that they had to move to West Africa for some reason (I would think that the missionary story would work to the best effect) and are trying to rent the place from there. Prospective buyers are allowed to drive by, they say, but they can’t trust anyone with the keys until they receive the deposit of $700. Of course, the house does not belong to them and anyone foolish enough to send the deposit will probably get nothing more than extra attempts to shake them down for more money until the well runs dry. While there are fishy elements to the story as presented–just the mention of Africa in regards to payment of funds before getting anything will raise flags with many–overall, the scam seems far more sellable than the prior scam.

Ars Technica has an article which explains how one of their staff members was caught up because the scammer used their house as the one being rented–they got drowned in potential renters coming up to their door asking for a walk-through (the Nigerians apparently were unable to find a house which was at the time unoccupied).

It’s sad that the entire country of Nigeria, perhaps a large portion of Africa in fact, are getting such a crappy reputation from these scammers. I would imagine that if I had to actually move to Nigeria for some reason and had to do transactions from there, I would have a lot of trouble doing so. I also have to wonder how this impacts legitimate businesses in that country, especially ones trying to market themselves electronically.

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