Nigerian Scams: Why Do People Fall for Them?

Understanding Nigerian scams and 16 easy tips to save money on gas: Internet ScamBusters #83

Internet ScamBusters™
The #1 Publication on Internet Fraud

By Audri and Jim Lanford
Copyright © Audri and Jim Lanford
All rights reserved.
Issue #83 July 7, 2004

Hi Everyone,

Today we start with a new twist on a recurring topic for longtime subscribers -- the Nigerian scam.

Although you may be very familiar with the Nigerian scam, we'll try to answer the most common -- and perhaps most important -- question we get about this scam: Why do so many people fall for it -- to the tune of $100 to $200 million a year?

We've never seen a satisfactory answer to this question before.

Plus, since the summer driving season is upon us, we have 16 tips for you to save money on gas prices.

We also recommend you check out the major update we've done to our 'stop spam' page.

And, visit this week's most popular urban legend page on the Microsoft-aol email.

Time to get started...


Nigerian Scams: Why Do People Fall for Them?


If you're not familiar with Nigerian scams, visit here before you read this article.


Why do so many people fall for Nigerian scams?

This is one of the questions we get asked most when we do radio and other media interviews.

So, we've been thinking about this a lot. After all, it seems quite amazing that people get taken to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

And "Greed" is just too simplistic an answer.

Here's our conclusion:

We think what happens is that the victims start to see themselves as really having the $7 million (or whatever the number they promise you). The con artist is good at making the money feel very real to the victim.

The victims start to FEEL the differences it will make in their lives -- in other words, they see themselves as actually having the money.

Then, when the problems start, they can't let go of that image and feeling.

They start to ask themselves: "What's a few hundred -- or even a few thousand -- dollars when you're going to get $7 million?"

Since the scam amounts start small and build, at first they aren't risking much. And then, they don't want to waste what they've already 'invested.'

So, people continue to pay -- and lose money.

We had someone call late last week and tell us they were sure a Nigerian scam was the real thing. After all, the scammer had given him a real phone number and he had called it.

We explained that the scammers routinely have throwaway cell phones to help increase their credibility. This victim really didn't want to hear it. ;-)

That's the first explanation of why so many people fall for Nigerian scams that seems right to us.


16 Easy Tips to Save Money on Gas


With the summer driving season in full swing -- and high gas prices at the pump -- subscribers have been asking how they can save on gas.  Click here for 16 easy ways to save money on gas prices.

Time for us to take a short drive (combining errands, of course). <g> See you next week.

 

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