Rural Heritage Sale Barn

Protecting Against the Nigerian Scam
by Pat Holscher

Handle financial arrangements the old-fashioned way—don't trust 'em. As odd as it may sound, part of the reason people get into trouble with scams, the Nigerian Scam in particular, is that they are more trusting of an anonymous email message than they would be of somebody in person. Most of us would wait for a check to clear the bank if some stranger handed it to us in person, but somehow a check sent by an anonymous emailer has more credence. It should not. If somebody mails you a check, even a cashier's check, let it clear.

If it sounds too good to be true—it is. Greed plays a huge element in these scams, which the cons know. Often the con offers to pay the mark an amount in excess of what the mark knows the animal is worth. That plays into our unfortunate desire to get more than we are entitled to. If a person offers to pay you more than you know your animal is worth, he is likely proposing to not pay you at all.

Suspect the odd location. If you are in Missouri, and the buyer is in Denmark/Nigeria/Scotland, why would he want to buy your mule, unless of course the mule is a known Olympic prospect.

Nigerian scam emails sometimes appeal to the recipient's sensibilities, vanity, or religion. An email from a stranger that is full of praise for you, or speaks in terms of the sender's deep religious faith, hopes to play on your self-image. Why would a person in England pretend to know of your fine reputation, if the people in the next county do not? And why would an emailer in South Africa automatically assume you and he are co-religious, and that you will help him out of Christian charity? He does not. Rather, the same email goes to many others. Some will bite.

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02 June 2005