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Nigerian Bank Fraud Schemes

From Internet Fraud Complaint Center

Key Findings


  • Nigerian Letter Schemes are widespread and encompass numerous internet domains that include,,,,,,,,, .de, etc. No specific Internet domains are being targeted with this scheme.
  • According to a review of available information, the most commonly used names in Nigerian Letter Scams are Mariam Abacha, Kayode Adeyemi, Isa Mustapha, Oliver Kabila, and Tonye Green.
  • The preferred method of response in Nigerian Letter Scams is via e-mail. The subjects often request that the intended victim include their telephone/fax number, complete address, and bank account information in their response.
  • Most Nigerian Letters Scams originate in Lagos or Lome-Togo, Nigeria. Other African cities where they originate include Congo-Zaire, Sadton, Cote d Ivoire, Accra Ghana, Eleme, Festac Town, Ivory Coast, and Seirra-Leone. Also, Canada and the United Kingdom have been identified as originating countries for this scam.
  • Nigerian Letter Scams involve numerous African Banks to include African Development Bank (ADB), Union Bank of Nigeria, Apex Bank, Togolaise Bank, Standard Trust Bank Limited (Lagos), Eco Bank Nigeria Plc, United Bank for Africa, and the International Bank of Africa.
  • Many Nigerian Letter Scam perpetrators present themselves as bank chief auditors, chief security officers, remittance department officials, directors of finance, director of bank, contract award department employees etc.
  • Most Nigerian Letter Scam perpetrators claim to have discovered inactive or delinquent accounts that hold vast amounts of money ready to be claimed. One common variation includes the over-invoicing of contracts (Contract Awards Department or company). They inform you that they have received millions of dollars through this practice and need help transferring the money to an overseas account.
  • All Nigerian Letter Scams claim to involve millions of dollars that need to be moved out of the country.
  • According to available data, the IFCC has only received two complaints wherein the intended victim had lost money. One of the complaints was for $30,000 and the other for $1000.
  • The bulk of the Nigerian Letter Scam complaints received at the IFCC are from concerned citizens wanting to alert the public.
  • Most Nigerian Letter Scams offer the victim a 30 percent cut for their help. A 30-60-10 split is the most common whereas the 10 percent is supposed to cover any expenses incurred during the transfer.
Nigerian Letter Scams


The Nigerian Letter Scam is a worldwide scam that is known internationally as the "Four-One-Nine" (419) scam. The "Four-One-Nine" refers to the Nigerian criminal statute for fraud. The scam has been around since the 1980s and began as a postal letter scam. It now includes phone contact (including cell phones), Internet/Email and fax messages.

The Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC) has received more than six hundred complaints on the Nigerian Letter scheme since it began operations in May 2000. Of these complaints, only two have been identified as having an actual monetary loss. The combined monetary loss of the victims was $31,000.

The Internet/Email Nigerian Letter Scheme is not a new scheme; rather, it is merely the same traditional scheme using a different approach. Unfortunately, the Internet provides an opportunity for nameless, faceless criminals to thrive. The Internet allows individuals or companies to reach out to thousands of internet users by sending e-mails, posting items on auction sites, posting messages on bulletin boards, entering ďchatĒ rooms, or building web sites. The traditional method of sending this scheme through the mail is becoming obsolete as the perpetrators of this scheme know they can communicate under complete anonymity with large crowds and minimal effort using the Internet. These perpetrators have not targeted any specific Internet domains as the scheme is widespread and encompasses practically all domains.

For this analysis, 324 of 650 Nigerian Letter Scam complaints received at the IFCC between May 2000 and August 2001 were reviewed. The complaints were received from concerned citizens throughout the United States who wanted to prevent others from becoming victims. Individuals and businesses located throughout the world are the intended victims. Schemes typically involve an email, fax, or letter from an "official" associated with the Nigerian Government, an African bank, or with the petroleum/minerals industry. Following are some of the purported Nigerian Government entities, banks, and industries cited by perpetrators in the scam letters received by the IFCC:

  Nigerian Government Contract Award Committee
  Secretary Federal Government of Nigeria Contract Award Monitoring Committee
  Financial Controller of the Ministry of Lands, Mines, and Energy
  Secretary of Contract Review Panel for the Nigerian Government
  Civil advisor for the Nigerian Governmentís Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF)
  Ministry of Petroleum Resources
  International Trade Affairs Commission
  African Development Bank (ADB)
  Union Bank of Nigeria
  Apex Bank
  Togolaise Bank
  Standard Trust Bank Limited (Lagos)
  Eco Bank Nigeria Plc
  United Bank for Africa
  International Bank of Africa
  Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC)
  National Electric Power Authority (NEPA)
  Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)
  National Gold and Diamond Mining Corporation

The majority (83 percent) of the subjects represented themselves as bank chief auditors, chief security officers, remittance department officials, directors of finance, directors of a bank, contract award department officials, etc. Some subjects claimed to have discovered an inactive or delinquent account, with vast amounts of money waiting to be claimed (See Example 5). Others claimed to be family relatives (wife, brother, sister, etc.) of individuals killed in plane crashes, assassinations, murders, natural causes, or other demise. In all of these scenarios, the deceased had been rich and the perpetrators needed help transferring the funds to an overseas bank account (See Examples 1,2 and 4).

Another prominent scheme portrayed the over-invoicing of contracts that involved a Contract Awards Department or similar office. The subjects informed the victim that they had received millions of dollars through the over-invoicing of contracts and requested the help of the victim to transfer the money to an overseas bank account as well (See Example 3).

This scam operated as follows: the victim received an unsolicited email, fax, or letter typically concerning an area of Africa (normally Nigeria) containing either a money laundering or other illegal proposal. Many subjects claimed to have the money hidden in a box being held by a private security company. This scam had numerous variations; however, the majority promised huge sums of money to the victim for his/her assistance in transferring the funds to an overseas bank account. Subjects routinely requested that the victim replies via email, but some requested phone and fax contact. Regardless of the requested contact method, the subjects requested the victimís telephone number, fax number, address, and bank account information.

At some point, the victim was usually asked to pay money up front. This money was required for miscellaneous expenses in processing and transferring the money to the overseas account. If the victim pays the money, problems occurred which required more money until the victim either quits, ran out of money, or both.

Based on the review, the most common names of subjects used in these letters were: Mariam Abacha 13 percent, Kayode Adeyemi 7 percent, Isa Mustapha 5 percent, Oliver Kabila 4 percent, and Tonye Green 2 percent. In 73 percent of cases, the gender of the subject was unknown. Most emails and fax letters originated from or could have been traced back to Nigeria. However, others originated from mostly African nations such as Congo-Zaire, Sadton, Liberia, Cote d Ivoire, Accra Ghana, Togo, Eleme, Festac Town, Ivory Coast, Seirra-Leone. The IFCC has also received complaints of this scam being perpetrated by subjects in Canada and the United Kingdom. However, upon analysis, the scam was Nigerian-based as well. The actual letters originated in non-African countries but referred to Nigerian institutions.

All Nigerian Letter Scams reviewed involved millions of dollars that needed to be moved out of the subjectís country to make the money safe or legal. The most common letters (14 percent) offered the victim 30 percent of the money for helping the subjects. Other letters offered the victim 20 percent, 25 percent, 35 percent and 15 percent cuts, respectively.

Nigerian Letter Scheme Examples:


Example #1


My Dear,

I am Mariam Abacha, widow to the former military head of state,late general Sani Abacha, who died suddenly as a result of cardiac arrest.

One early morning, I was called by my late husband General Sani Abacha who at that time was the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and the Head of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he took me around the apartment and showed me three metal boxes of money all in foreign currency.

My husband told me he was to use the money for the settlement of his personal royal guards on his self-succession bid and campaings.

Upon his tragic and unexpected death, the new civilian government has insisted on probing my family's financial resources and has gazettedall our properties. Also, they recently seized all the family known funds abroad with the assistance of the British Government. It is only this money US$60,000,000.00 (sixty million us dollars only) he deposited with the security company vault at Togo (Lome) that they cannot trace because the funds were deposited as an (antiquity) African artwork from Nigeria art gallery, the family intends to use this money for investment purpose to enable the family to start life all over again.

Therefore, the family is urgently in need of a very reliable investor participant that we could en trust with the certificate of deposit and PIN (personal identification number code to help us remove the funds sinceno name were used in securing the vault.

I got your name and contact address from our chamber of commerce and industry office in Lagos, Nigeria. If the proposal is acceptable to you, after getting the money out of the security company vault to your country, my family have agreed to offer you 25% of the total sum for the assistance you rendered to us and bank the family's own part of the funds and assist us in investing (with my approval)in a project as a front from there we can discuss the way forward, most especially now that my eldest son, Mohammed and I are under pressure from the government.

Please kindly reach me by this email, for more details on the logistics and modalities if you are interested in a "partnership" so that we can arrange a meeting in (Lome) Togo at the security company.

Note: I do not need to remind you of the absolute secrecy and confidentiality that this transaction demands. My son Abba will only be the one to tell you when ever it is possible to talk to me. If you are not interested, please kindly reply to me immediately to enable me to search for another interested partner.

Thanks and accept my regards.
Mariam Abacha (Alhaja).

For the family.
Note you can as well call my son Abba on his number
00 228 02 51 33
For more directives.

Example #2


From the Desk of Kayode Adeyemi.

Union Bank of Nigeria,

Dear Sir,


I am Dr.Kayode Adeyemi, The manager, Bills and Exchange at the Foreign Remittance Department of the Union Bank of Nigeria Plc. I am writing this letter to ask for your support and cooperation to carry out this business opportunity in my department. We discovered an abandoned sum of $15,000,000.00 (Fifteen million United States Dollars only) in an account that belongs to one of our foreign customers who died along with his entire family of a wife and two children in November 1997 in a Plane crash.

Since we heard of his death, we have been expecting his next-of-kin to come over and put claims for his money as the heir, because we cannot release the fund from his account unless someone applies for claim as the next-of-kin to the deceased as indicated in our banking guidelines. Unfortunately, neither their family member nor distant relative has ever appeared to claim the said fund. Upon this discovery, I and other officials in my department have agreed to make business with you and release the total amount into your account as the heir of the fund since no one came for it or discovered he maintained account with our bank, otherwise the fund will be returned to the banks treasury as unclaimed fund.

We have agreed that our ratio of sharing will be as stated thus; 20 % for you as foreign partner, 75 % for us the officials in my department and 5 % for the settlement of all local and foreign expenses incurred by us and you during the course of this business.

Upon the successful completion of this transfer, I and one of my colleagues will come to your country and mind our share. It is from our 75% we intend to import Agricultural Machineries into my country as a way of recycling the fund. To commence this transaction, we require you to immediately indicate your interest by a return e-mail and enclose your private contact telephone number, fax number full name and address and your designated bank coordinates to enable us file letter of claim to the appropriate departments for necessary approvals before the transfer can be made.

Note also, this transaction must be kept STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL because of its nature.

I look forward to receiving your prompt response.

Dr.Kayode Adeyemi.
Union Bank of Nigeria.


Example #3





I know this email will reach you as a surprise, but need not to worry as we are using the only secured and confidential medium available to seek for foreign assistance/partnership in a business transaction which is of mutual benefit.

I am a member of the Federal Government of Nigeria Contract Award and Monitoring Committee in the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporatio(NNPC). Sometime ago, a contract was awarded to a foreign firm in NNPC by my Committee. This contract was over invoiced to the tune of US$21.5M. U.S. dollars. This was done deliberately. The over-invoicing was a deal by my committee to benefit from the project. We now want to transfer this money which is in a suspense Account with NNPC into any Overseas Account which we expect you to provide for us.

For providing the account where we shall remit the money into, you will be entitled to 30% of the money,60% will be for me and my partners while 10% has been mapped out from the total sum to cover any expenses that maybe incurred by us during the course of this transfer, both locally and international expenses. It may interest you to know that a similar transaction was carried out with one MR. PATRICE MILLER, President of Crane International Trading Corp. of 153 East 57th St., 28th floor, NY10022, TEL:(212)-308-7788 AND TELEX: 6731689. The deal was concluded and all covering documents were forwarded to MR. MILLER to authenticate the claim. Once the funds were transferred, MR. MILLER presented his Bank with all the legal documents and remitted the whole funds to another Bank Account and disappeared completely. My colleagues were shattered, as such opportunities do not come all the time.

I would require the following: -
1. Your company's name,address,telephone and fax numbers.
2. The bank where the money will be remitted.

The above information would be used to make formal applications as a matter of procedure for the release of the money and onward transfer to your account. It does not matter whether or not your company does contract projects of this nature described here. The assumption is that your company won the major contract and subcontracted it out to other companies. More often than not,big trading companies or firms of unrelated fields win major contracts and subcontracts to more specialized firms for execution of such contracts.

We have strong reliable connections and contacts at the Central Bank of Nigeria, as well as the Federal Ministry of Finance and we have no doubt that all the money will be released and transferred if we get the necessary foreign partner to assist us in this deal. Therefore, when the business is successfully concluded we shall through our same connections withdraw all documents used from all the concerned Government Ministries for 100% security.

We are ordinary civil servants and we will not want to miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to get rich. We want this money to be transferred to the overseas Accounts for us, before the present Democratic Government start auditing all Federal Government owned Parstatals.

Please contact me immediately through my telephone number whether or not you are interested in this deal. If you are not, it will enable me scout for another foreign partner to carry out this deal. But where you are interested, send the required documents aforementioned herein through my above telephone number, as time is of the essence in this business.

I wait in anticipation of your fullest co-operation.

Yours faithfully,
Dr.Isa Mustapha


Example #4


I am making this contact with profound interest, having considered you highly reputable and capable of assistance to my understated business proposal after going through a brief profile of your company here in the Ghana International Trade Affairs Commission.

I am Oliver Kabila from the democratic republic of Congo Zaire, son of late Laurent M. Kabila, the former President and Commander in Chief of the Armed forces Republic of Congo Zaire. Presently taking refuge here in Accra Ghana (West Africa) after the sudden demise of my father, following his assassination by his personal body guard on the 16th January 2001. I refer you to the time magazine cover story of the 12th of February.

On trust and in utmost confidence, I am establishing this relationship with you in benevolent spirit as to enhance immediate resolution to an opportunity rightly at hand. In a close door meeting held with my father before his sudden death, he disclosed to me certain facts and secrets about himself and that of my step-brother General Joseph Kabila (I mean the present President of my country). Certain documents was given to me that day by my father regarding which he deposited in a private vault of a security firm here in Ghana. In addition, $168 million US dollars cash in two trunk boxes also in the vault. The $168 million US dollars was to be used to work on leaders of the Ecowas community, enhancing his full support in power. But this aim was not achieved before his death.

The issue of this money has been a secret between my father and I until he died. Therefore, I am taking this as an opportunity to enrich and equip myself to face my secret ambition. As nobody can convince me that my step-brother (Joseph) is not behind the death of my father.

I have since been in this town in pursuance of the clearance of this consignment and I am so far able to clarify/certify all papers with the security company (where the consignment is being kept in a private vault). I have inspected the box but could not open it due to security reasons. Because my father did not declare the content as money but personal effects.

All I need now is a reliable foreign partner with whom I can clear and transfer this money abroad. I have agreed to give a reasonable percentage of the total value of this consignment as your share. You may ask If I donít have international contacts to assist me on this issue. The answer is yes, but I have an ambition right now and want to live in disguise until my ambition is fulfilled.

I expect your kind urgent response by phone or email: or to enable me to furnish you with more details on this business.

Thanks in anticipation.

Oliver kabila
Cell phone: + 233 24260633 (on 24hrs)

Nb: I shall count on your indulgence to please keep this information very secret & confidential. And Please, you should henceforth address me as Mr. Razaq Ibrahim. That is the name I am now using for Security reasons.


Example #5


Dear Sir,

I am Mr. Tonye Green, the chief accountant with Standard Trust Bank . I have a transaction which I think will be of mutual benefit to both of us. In my desire for a foreign partner with whom to do this transaction, I stumbled on your contact from a business directory.

As the head of accounts department of STB, I discovered some amount of money while I was auditing accounts for the 2000 financial year which has been lying there for 6 years.

On further inquiry, I discovered that this money totaling about USD$17Million (Seventeen Million United States Dollars) including accumulated interest belonged to one Mr. Bruno Gonzalez, a Spanish national who lived here and died intestate with no beneficiary. I have successfully secured the money and with the assistance of my colleague, the money has been packaged as photographic materials ready for shipment.

I would need your particulars to enable me prepare documents which will authenticate that the consignment belongs to you and to enable you claim the money. I want to be assured of a safe account where the money will be deposited pending my arrival. This transaction is absolutely risk free with no legal complications, I have made all necessary arrangements for a successful transaction.

I must let you know that a high degree of trust is required.

You can reach me on,for further clarifications.

Expecting your timely response
Yours Faithfully


See The Seattle Times: Nation & World: Notorious e-mail scam finds believers






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