Who on earth would fall for a Nigerian Facebook scammer?

January 26, 2009

For almost as long as the Internet has been in existence (in a mainstream sense), there have been scammers trying to score a quick buck from some unfortunate and gullible mugs. But with everyone aware of the threats posed by phishing emails, the scammers are increasingly turning to social networks such as MySpace and Facebook. But who on earth would fall for it?

The Nigerian scam of criminals obtaining money by deceit by pretending to be something they are not is as old as the hills. You’ll receive an email or even a phone call from someone insisting you’ve won a huge cash prize or are the rightful heir to the throne of some unheard-of country. All that’s needed to process the payment is your bank account details or a cash advance of several thousand dollars.

Luckily, most of us are too security-aware to fall for such transparent attempts at money laundering. So the criminals are now turning to Facebook and the like in order to pull off their vile plans. The advantage of using social networks is the easy and instant access to personal details which can help the scammers in their dastardly deeds.

The details of one such Nigerian scamming attempt is detailed in an article on Silicon Alley Insider. Not only does it show up the desperation in the would-be scammers attempts, it shows a human side. It also shows someone not stupid enough to fall for such an easy-to-spot scam, and having read the transcript of the scam attempt, I personally cannot see how anyone could fall for it.

For starters, there is the whole idea of someone pretending to be your friend when it’s quite obvious to all but the clinically insane that they aren’t anything of the sort. Look at the bad use of English, the short shrift given to anything approaching a negative response, and the obvious danger signs of Western Union, stupidly high prices amounts of money being quoted, and the need for a quick response.

It’s not very pleasant for you or a friend to find they’ve had their account hacked but with a little common sense, it needn’t end in anyone losing any money. As Facebook itself advises, if you’re asked for money by a Facebook friend then verify the circumstances being spelled out before acting on it. Only a scammer would be desperate enough that they wouldn’t allow you that opportunity.

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