“Nigerian Letter Scams”


Fraud Solicitations


    The Lynn Police have become aware of an incident, involving the “Nigerian Letter” fraud scam, being perpetuated in our city.  This is an old scam that has been around since the mid 1980’s.  This scheme appears to have originated in the African country of Nigeria, hence the moniker.

    This type of fraud can combine “impersonation fraud” with a variation on the “advance fee” scheme, in which a letter or email offers the recipient the “opportunity” to share in a percentage of millions of dollars that the author, usually identifying himself as a government official or a bank official, is trying to transfer out of the country. 

    The millions of dollars are most often said to have belong to a wealthy person who recently died in some form of accident leaving no next-of-kin, and that the funds are in an account at the bank that the author has access to.   The author requires the assistance of the recipient’s outside help, as due to the author’s position in the government or bank, prohibits him from moving the money into his personal accounts.

    The letter or email will hint that the scheme is slightly illegal, but will not come out and say so.

    The recipient may be encouraged to send information to the author, such as blank letterhead stationary, bank name and personal account numbers, other identifying information, or advance money to perpetuate the scheme using a fax number, or email address provided by the author.

    The advanced money, will be said to be used for a variety of reasons, i.e.: payment of taxes, bribes to government officials, and legal fees often described in great detail with the promise that all expenses will be reimbursed as soon as the funds are transferred out of the host country.

    In actuality, the millions of dollars do not exist and the victim eventually ends up with nothing but loss. Once the victim stops sending money, the perpetrators have been known to use the personal information and checks that they received to impersonate the victim, draining bank accounts and credit card balances until the victim's assets are taken in their entirety.

    The recent incident reported to the Lynn Police involved an email sent by “Dr. Alex Williams, the director in charge of auditing and accounting section of Union Togolaise du Banque Lome-Togo in west Africa”

    The funds listed in this “Nigerian Letter” email belonged to a person who died in 1997 as the result of a plane crash.  The funds, totaling fourteen million US dollars, has been in a dormant account since the person’s death with no claims of custody from his family or relations.

    “Dr. Williams” writes that he would have conducted the transaction alone, but due to his position as a civil servant, he is prohibited from operating a foreign bank account, there by requiring the assistance of a second outside party.

    “Dr. Williams” requested the recipient respond to the email if interested in the deal, and that further details would be provided in future correspondence.



Some Tips To Help You Avoid These Frauds:

    1.     If you receive a similar letter or email asking you to send personal or banking information, do not reply in any manner. Send the letter to the U.S. Secret Service or the FBI.

    2.     If you know someone who is corresponding in one of these schemes, encourage that person to contact the FBI or the U.S. Secret Service as soon as possible.


    The Victims of any Internet Crime are able to go directly to the IFCC web site www.IFCCFBI.gov to submit their complaint information, relieving considerable frustration for the victim in trying to decide which law enforcement agency should receive the complaint.

    (Some of the information contained in the description of the “Nigerian Letter” fraud was obtained from the FBI official web site at www.fbi.gov)