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How To Avoid Being Scammed by a Nigerian


For Tourists in Nigeria

Every beautiful city has a dark side. In Nigeria, tourists are particularly attracted to Lagos State because of its beauty and cultural richness. However, lurking in the shadows of this wonderful place are so-called “touts, fraudsters, and area boys’.

The touts are of different categories. Some are social miscreants who do not want to engage in a serious and legitimate job to earn a living. There are those refined gentlemen who act as clearance agents of goods at the seaport; insurance and driving license agents and many of their sorts in the city. The most serious social miscreants loiter the city streets and are found under the flyover bridges and the city bus stops.
The Lagosians call the hoodlums “area boys‟. Their presence is noted at the deadly spots of Lagos. You can recognize them when you see them though some of them may not be easily recognized. Their sinister appearance and their use of bad langauage are common ways to identify them. The uncommon types are not easily noticed in the crowd.

When visiting crowded areas in Lagos, be aware and walk smartly. They
are Nnamdi Azikiwe Street, Alli-balogun-Idumota-Idumagbo Avenue- Oke Arin –Elegbata areas and Brown Square. The presence of touts and hoodlums are not easily noticed on Marina – Broad Streets, Race course and Tinubu Square in Lagos Island. But they are there. You just have
to be very safety conscious. However, there is no cause for alarm. You can avoid them if you are very cautious.

Except some areas of the Lagos Bar Beach in Victoria Island, the presence of touts and hoodlums in the Island including Lekki area and
Ikoyi is not easily noticed, but they are there.
Other areas in Lagos that need cautious approach include Oshodi Market, Yaba Bus terminus, Boundry Bus terminus, Ajegunle – Mile 2,
Ipaja Roundabout, Ifako-Bariga, Ikeja Junction, Tin Can Island and all bus stops and terminus where the Danfo and Molue public transport

How Do Nigerian Scammers Operate?

Business Fraud

Advance Fee-Fraud, otherwise known as 419 in Nigeria simply means the demand for and payment of an advance fee in form of tax, brokerage,
bribe and so on, under the pretence that such is needed to consummate a business deal, whether the business itself is genuine or not. In most cases the business is not genuine.

Advance Fee Fraud is introduced to intended victims in many ways, but mostly through a scam letter or email containing false information such as:

  • Millions of Dollars from invoiced contracts in Nigeria,
  • Millions of Dollars from funds left by deceased persons,
  • Contracts for the purchase of vehicles, computers, accessories, medical equipment etc, all running into million of Dollars.
  • The sales of crude oil, gold, diamond and other expensive minerals.

These letters are tempting; as they tend to show the case with which money can accrue to the addressees.

Writers of Fraudulent (Scam) Letters

Often the writers claim to be persons of high social status. They use bogus prefixes, such as Alhaji, Doctor, Prince, Chief, Engineer, HRH (His Royal Highness) and so on. They also lay claim to be in high positions of authority or high status as in being Chief Executive Officers, Chairmen, and Executive Director and so on. These positions are said to be held in government offices such as the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Federal Ministry of Finance or Ministry of
Defence, and so on.

The purported advantages of such proposals lie in the making of huge monetary gains with minimal efforts or input. In the case of transfer of funds, there is incentive of a huge commission to the benefit of the addressee.

The act surfaces soon after a link with the would-be victim had been made, and normal course of communication established. After establishing a good rapport with the victim, demands for money are made under several guises, one demand leading to another until the victim is unwilling to make further payments in the apparent realisation of deceit in the whole transaction. Such guises include request for:

  • 5% remittance fee
  • 1% legal charges
  • Job completion certificate charges
  • 3% normal Economic Recovery Fund Tax
  • Inheritance Tax (in the case of funds supposedly emanating from wills), and
  • Value Added Tax (VAT); Revenue Tax among others.
  • distinction

Note that these documents do not exist in reality and there are no actual government contracts. They are a part of the usual ploy to extort money from unsuspecting victims.

Relationship Scam

This kind of scams are becoming more popular. Usually, the targets are lonely older people, either an older man or woman. Scammers take the time to woo their victims first, often even going to the extent of making or accepting marriage proposals.

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True, some online relationships start well and end well; there are still good honest people out there. But at a time when dishonest and fraudulent acts are prevalent, it is prudent to show caution.

How to tell an Honest Nigerian Man

An average Nigerian man is very hardworking. He takes pride in being the “provider”. A Nigerian man traditionally considers it an insult to take money from a wife or girlfriend. In Igbo language, a wife is fondly referred to as “Oriaku” which literally means “wealth spender”. This is to show that a wife is meant to be taken care of. In fact, the worth of a man is measured by how good his wife looks. Contrary to popular belief, Nigerian men actually take this tradition seriously.

So, it's a big red flag when you encounter a Nigerian and soon after starting a relationship, he starts to ask you for money. That is an indication that his feelings are not genuine and that he doesn't really consider you to be his partner.

Apart from outrightly swindling you of your hard-earned money, some might be interested in the green card. To find out, simply make it clear to him that you want to come and live with him in Nigeria. Of course, this is not something you are going to do but say it to gauge his reaction. Channel the plans you make with him toward starting life as a family in Nigeria. If he's fake he'll drop you like a hot pan.

This goes for men who are seeking to date Nigerian women as well. More Nigerian ladies are going into the business of having “sugar daddies”. They don't want to do any real work. If you are having a conversation with someone who seems genuine and the issue of money comes up, offer to get her a job. Of course, the wiser course of action is to cease all communications with anyone who appears to be fraudulent.

How to Protect Yourself From Scammers

The victims targeted by Advance Fee Fraudsters and scammers in general are mainly foreign nationals who are invited to the ountry by fraudulent letters and investors who having arrived the country for genuine business are schemed into fraudulent and frivolous transactions ostensibly to defraud
them. Information about such foreigners is easily and usually obtained from catalogues of foreign companies (or through internet, social media and web sites).
Local residents too could be victims in various ways.

What to do

• Do not respond to the scam letter either by mail, e-mail, fax or telephone.
• Do not agree to any proposed meeting whether it is to take place in your country or Nigeria
• Do not part with your money under any circumstance
• Do not reveal or give out your bank accounts number or credit card details, you could be duped.
• Do not be convinced by documents carrying the insignia or logo of Federal Government of Nigeria, Central Bank of Nigeira, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, or any other Nigeria government agency.Such documents are fake or forged.
• Do not accept proposal for remittance of money into your bank account. There is no money to be remitted.
• Ensure the security of your vital documents relating to bank accounts, international passport, identity cards, fax-telephone numbers, e-mail – internet passwords, contractual agreements etc.
• Do not prolong communication as this may convince and lure you into an avoidable mess.
• Do not give out documents or other information about yourself or business, especially bank passport particulars, as this may serve as the basis for fraud and so on.


Eunice Godfrey (author) from Nigeria on May 21, 2021:

Hi James, I can not capture every tactic they use. I only mentioned the most common ones. But if you read the paragraph under the subheading “writers of scam letters”, you'll notice where I said that scammers often use bogus titles including “prince”. So I guess your scenario falls under that. The point is that financial scammers always ask for an advance of some sort with the promise of giving you so much more money later. That's why under the Nigerian Act, it is called advance fee fraud.

James C Moore from Joliet, IL on May 21, 2021:

The U.S.A. has a television show named after its psychiatrist host Dr. Phil. I've seen the relationship scammers based in Nigeria on his show. But to be honest I'm surprised your article doesn't mention the Nigerian prince scam where someone emails you and ask for money with the promise that you get to share in their royal treasure once they escape from the purported military coup.

Eunice Godfrey (author) from Nigeria on May 21, 2021:

Hi Ravi, thank you for your comment. The first lesson drilled into me by my parents is not to be greedy. Greedy and gullible people are more likely to fall into financial scams than people who are content with what they have.

Eunice Godfrey (author) from Nigeria on May 21, 2021:

Hi Liz, fraudsters don't care about the people they rob. That is why we have to protect ourselves.

Ravi Rajan from Mumbai on May 21, 2021:

This is a very useful article Eunice. The email scam promising millions of dollars is the common scam perpetuated in India by these fraudsters to extort money as 'fees'.Often the victims are gullible housewives or uneducated people wanted to get rich fast. This is an eye-opening article.

Liz Westwood from UK on May 21, 2021:

This is an interesting article. A lot of money is lost each year in the UK to scammers.

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