Nigerian advance fee fraud


Throughout history, enterprising if unscrupulous individuals have devised new ways of tricking gullible people into parting with their money. Without in any way impugning the integrity and honesty of the vast majority of Nigerians, this paper examines one of the most recent examples of deceptive conduct that has emerged internationally and has been carried out on a wide scale by a group of primarily Nigerian nationals. It involves a variant of the traditional “advance fee” scheme and has been used to defraud anyone in the world who is willing to succumb to the temptation offered to make some “quick money”. It has been estimated that some US$5 billion has been stolen worldwide through the use of these schemes over the past decade.

This paper examines the nature of this phenomenon and investigates the way in which its occurrence has escalated, not only in frequency, but also with respect to the seriousness and nature of the criminality involved. It also examines the reasons behind the development of this phenomenon and how traditional law enforcement measures have been of limited effectiveness in controlling it. In the end, one can only wonder at the greed and stupidity of people prepared to part with money in response to an unsolicited letter, offering them millions of dollars, from a stranger on the other side of the world.