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The scam has been used with fax and traditional mail, and is now prevalent in online communications like emails.While Nigeria is most often the nation referred to in these scams, they originate in other nations as well.Multiple "people" involved in schemes are fictitious, and in many cases, one person controls many fictitious personae used in scams.Once the victim's confidence has been gained, the scammer then introduces a delay or monetary hurdle that prevents the deal from occurring as planned, such as "To transmit the money, we need to bribe a bank official. " or "For you to be a party to the transaction, you must have holdings at a Nigerian bank of 0,000 or more" or similar.This scam usually begins with the perpetrator contacting the victim via email, instant messaging or social media using a fake email address or a fake social media account and making an offer that would allegedly result in a large payoff for the victim.
Some victims even believe they can cheat the other party, and walk away with all the money instead of just the percentage they were promised.
The implication that these payments will be used for "white-collar" crime such as bribery, and even that the money they are being promised is being stolen from a government or royal/wealthy family, often prevents the victim from telling others about the "transaction", as it would involve admitting that they intended to be complicit in an international crime.
Sometimes psychological pressure is added by claiming that the Nigerian side, to pay certain fees, had to sell belongings and borrow money on a house, or by comparing the salary scale and living conditions in Africa to those in the West.
If a victim makes the payment, the fraudster either invents a series of further fees for the victim or simply disappears.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), "An advance fee scheme occurs when the victim pays money to someone in anticipation of receiving something of greater value—such as a loan, contract, investment, or gift—and then receives little or nothing in return." There are many variations of this type of scam, including the 419 scam (also known as the Nigerian Prince scam), the Spanish Prisoner scam, the black money scam, Fifo's Fraud and the Detroit-Buffalo scam.