Nigerian scams are some of the oldest and most popular scams used mainly by Nigerians to cheat people out of their hard-earned money.  It is also called the Nigerian 419 scam. The term is derived from a section in Nigeria's Criminal Code that bans the practice. There have been reports of this scam since the early 2000s. People lose large sums of money to this scam and end up losing a lot of money.

In what way does this scam work?

Criminals use various methods to contact innocent people, including emails, letters, texts, and social media. These messages and emails are sent to people to congratulate them on winning a lottery or to tell them that a charity donation has been made to them. Many even advertise job openings. 

Those who respond to those messages and emails are convinced the fraudsters are authentic. The scammers collect money under the guise of various charges. Victims end up losing lakhs of rupees to the fraudsters.

Real-life incident

An individual named Sanjay Singh recently received a message from a girl named Aisha. In her message, she claimed to be from the United Kingdom. Messages from her state that she wishes to transfer $5.5 million (Rs 39 crore) to the Sanjay Singh account to be distributed as a donation to the poor. In addition, Sanjay Singh was told that a processing fee of Rs 6.62 Lakh will have to be paid before the money can be transferred.

He transferred Rs 6.62 Lakh in 12 installments to the fraudster's bank account believing this to be true. After learning that he had been defrauded, Sanjay Singh filed a police complaint. Four Nigerians involved in the fraud have been arrested by Visakhapatnam cybercrime police.

Besides this case, many individuals have also suffered losses due to Nigerian scams. Cybercrime police statistics for Vishakhapatnam show that 42 cases have been reported since the start of the year 2019.

Also Check: Fraud Story #184- Online Fraud: Email hacked and money stolen from e-wallet

A major way to approach people is through social media

The Facebook platform has been found to be a major medium for fraudsters. So, you have to be very cautious if you are befriended by an unknown person on social media who claims to be an NRI. Fake Facebook accounts are created by fraudsters by stealing photos on the internet.

How to protect yourself from this fraud?

1. Do not send money to anyone you do not know or trust.

2. Do not give out your personal banking information over the phone or through emails.

3. Avoid communicating with people you don't know on social media, and never send money to someone you don't know.

4. The use of digital escrow platforms for payments is recommended. When you make an online payment with Escrow, no financial information is shared. There is a platform for escrow called Vouch.

How does digital escrow work?

In digital escrow, a third-party account holds the money deposited by the buyer until the seller fulfills the terms of the contract. The escrow company supervises the transacting parties.

What is the role of Digital Escrow in preventing online fraud in India? 

Digital escrow services are offered by many companies in India. Among the most trusted is Vouch.

Vouch’s Digital Escrow service is a transparent way for buyers and sellers to build trust and secure a clean transfer of product and payment. Sellers can feel assured that they will be fairly compensated promptly, and buyers will feel confident that their order will be delivered as expected and on schedule. Vouch Digital Escrow keeps you updated and informed at every step of the transaction process till the end. Vouch’s professionals are always available to assist you with all queries that you may have during the entire transaction process. 

There is no scope for deceit or fraud since the payments, shipping, delivery, and execution are carried out under the honest and watchful eyes of the Vouch’s professionals. With Vouch, any business transaction becomes transparent, uncomplicated, and hassle-free. If you ever come across a fraudster asking for OTP, asking you to scan a QR code, or asking you to click on phishing links, you can simply refuse and ask him/her to proceed with the transaction through Vouch.

This is Fraud Story #191. Check back here for more fraud stories and scams that you can protect yourself from.

Safety is not just about protecting your credit, debit card number, and UPI accounts. It's about having control of your money till you've received the product or service you bought online!

Note: This is a good-faith initiative to educate the world about avoiding frauds like these and how to act when you're becoming a victim of such a situation. 

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