Everyone with an email address receives them: those elaborate offers to send money or merchandise to strangers in Nigeria. But here’s a tip. Don’t send cash–for any reason. And don’t send any products until you have the payment for whatever you’re supposed to send in your hands.
I understand scammers are con artists are clever, but common sense is the first rule of business. When you make a sale, hold onto your merchandise until you’ve been paid.
In the past few years, I’ve heard from dozens of consumers caught by Nigerian-based scams, including a woman who lost her $1,500 laptop to a con artist in Lagos. The woman shipped the computer after the swindler tricked her into believing she had paid for it with a US Postal Service online money order. The seller didn’t realize until long after the product was shipped that there is no such thing as a Postal Service online money order.
Some consumers may find it hard to have sympathy for a victim that could should have exercised a little caution before sending expensive merchandise to a stranger. But it’s a common scam. “I was mortified when I discovered this was an internet scam,” one victim acknowledged.
Another sent a video game system along with 44 games to someone in Lagos. “She claimed she lived in Florida, but asked me to ship the package to Nigeria because her son was going to school there,” the victim explained. The seller shipped the merchandise, but hasn’t received the promised payment. She wanted to know how to get her stuff back. Unfortunately, there’s virtually no way to recovery items lost to this scam.
Federal investigators, who traditionally tracked Nigerian scams, are focused on terrorism/ Local law enforcement agencies don’t have the ability to cross international boundaries.
The only thing victims can walk away with is a lesson learned. Be skeptical. Check and double check the information you receive from alleged buyers. Above all, never send merchandise to strangers until you have received payment and any checks or wire transfers have cleared.