The aim of an advance fee “Nigerian” email scam is to trick an email recipient into believing they are about to inherit/win a large amount of money… but before the recipient can receive this large cash pay they must first fork over a much smaller amount of money. You know… to get the transaction rolling.
But it’s okay, the victim is told. The required smaller pay-out will pale in comparison to the larger pay-out they’ll get in return. So the victim makes the small pay-out, only to find the large pay-out they’re supposed to get in return is all just a scam. And the victim loses the money.
It’s a tired and ageing email scam… but the fact that it still hits our inboxes means at least a few people must still be falling for it.
Traditionally these scams take on the template of a Nigerian lawyer or prince desperately attempting to get money out of the country, and, of course, they need your bank account to do it. In return you get a handsome percentage of the money, usually in the millions of dollars. But occasionally the scammers use different stories. Some more outrageous than others.
These are 5 of the most bizarre. We don’t know if anyone actually fell for them, but odds are someone did.
5 Melania Trump has $20 million for you
In a clear demonstration that email scammers are certainly moving with the times, First Lady Melania Trump’s name has been used in this scam. Apparently, according to the email, a cool $20 million is sitting in her office at the White House with your name on it. The money is from the government of West Africa Benin Republic, though the email doesn’t really explain why it’s supposed to be heading your way.
But who really cares? $20 million, right? Oh, but first you need to fork over a measly $180. You know, to “secure the Approval Document”. Of course.
4 The stranded astronaut
Bad math is the least of the problems with this bizarre scam that claims a secret Nigerian astronaut has been stranded in space since 1990 and his family need to get him back – with your help. They need you to assist in accessing the astronaut’s trust fund of a cool $15 million so they can organise a return flight for him. And of course you’ll be well compensated for your assistance.
I am Dr. Bakare Tunde, the cousin of Nigerian Astronaut, Air Force Major Abacha Tunde. He was the first African in space when he made a secret flight to the Salyut 6 space station in 1979. He was on a later Soviet spaceflight, Soyuz T-16Z to the secret Soviet military space station Salyut 8T in 1989. He was stranded there in 1990 when the Soviet Union was dissolved. His other Soviet crew members returned to earth on the Soyuz T-16Z, but his place was taken up by return cargo. There have been occasional Progrez supply flights to keep him going since that time. He is in good humor, but wants to come home.
In the 14-years since he has been on the station, he has accumulated flight pay and interest amounting to almost $ 15,000,000 American Dollars. This is held in a trust at the Lagos National Savings and Trust Association. If we can obtain access to this money, we can place a down payment with the Russian Space Authorities for a Soyuz return flight to bring him back to Earth. I am told this will cost $ 3,000,000 American Dollars. In order to access the his trust fund we need your assistance.
Consequently, my colleagues and I are willing to transfer the total amount to your account or subsequent disbursement, since we as civil servants are prohibited by the Code of Conduct Bureau (Civil Service Laws) from opening and/ or operating foreign accounts in our names.
3 Lottery winner shares his winnings
In 2015, Harold Diamond was a lucky, lucky man. He was the sole winner of the largest lottery win in New York State history winning over $3,000,000. But he’s also a kind man, if this email is to be believed since he has contacted you personally. Why?
To offer you 10% of his winnings, of course! Because… why not? Well, actually according to “Harold” he is offering you money to help “alleviate poverty”. That’s a bit of a digital slap in the face. To get the promised money, you just need to reply with all of your personal information and then make a few small payments to secure the transfer and it’s all yours. Literally, what could go wrong?
My name is Harold Diamond, the current winner of $326 million on the just-concluded Mega Millions Jackpot on November 4, 2014. I know this is surprising for you to have received this at this very early stage.
But because I just received the check on Monday, January 12, 2015 and I am excited, I am willing to donate $300,000 to you and as part of my effort to alleviate poverty and care for the less privileged around the world. I have decided to donate to just five people.
For immediate release of these donated funds, send your full name, age, telephone number, and country. We will instruct our payout bank to transfer the sum of $300,000 to you.
2 The FBI has “warned you so many times” now
This email claims the FBI has warned you so many times now… but now it really is decision time.
So… pay a fine of $98 or … have all your properties confiscated, bank accounts closed and face “maximum arrest” for terrorist charges, money laundering and drug trafficking.
1 $3,800 and you can stay alive
Certainly a contender for most blunt and audacious email out there, this gem claims that unless you pay up a hefty $3,800, you’re going to die. Because one of your friends has hired an assassin to kill you.
They even spelt assassinate in capital letters, so it obviously must be legit.
As you can see, there is no need for me to introduce myself to you because I don’t have any business with you. My duty as I am mailing you now is just to ASSASSINATE YOU. If you don’t comply, I have to do it as I have already been paid for that. But I have to ask you this question. What is the problem you have with your friend that made him to hire us to kill you?
Now do you want to LIVE OR DIE? As someone has paid us to kill you. Get back to me now if you are ready to pay some fees to spare your life — $3,800 is all you need to spend.