Getting Nigerian Email Scammed, A First-Person Story

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you responded to one of those Nigerian scam emails, offering fabulous riches for just a small amount of work? Here’s the story from an unsuspecting college student who totally fell for one. An impecunious immigrant to this country from rural China, he made the perfect target for “Dr. Mike Johnson.” The good doctor was looking to hire some employees. The job? Cashing Traveler’s Cheques and forwarding the money on to Nigeria… In other words, the job was to be a victim of check fraud. Here’s the story…

First, I received an e-mail from an unknown person; his name in the e-mail is Dr. Mike Johnson. The contents of this e-mail is an announcement of a part time job, he offered 10% of the total money after exchanging traveling cheques, and the remaining 90% was to be money transferred to him via Western Union-Money Transfer. I replied to his e-mail and gave him my personal information and address. I received American Express Traveler’s Cheques totaling $2,500 a few days after my e-mail reply. Following this, I went to (redacted) Bank to cash these Traveler’s Cheques. I then transferred 90% of this money to Nigeria. A week later, he delivered to me an additional $7,000 in Travelers Cheques. I followed the same process that I did the first time. The total amount money involved was $9,500, 10% ($950) I kept for my fees, $650 was used in transfer fees, and $7900 was transferred to Nigeria.

I understood what the part-time job entailed. I thought that it was legal work. I wanted to give it a try and so replied to the e-mail. Although I did not know whether he would send me back an e-mail the first time, he delivered $2,500 in Travelers Cheques to me. I did not know whether these cheques were real or not because they looked like money. According to Dr. Mike Johnson’s directions I had to sign and write a date by myself, and take the cheques to be cashed at the bank. At the bank I asked the bank officer about cashing the cheques. After the bank checked the cheques, the bank officer told me that the cheques could be changed. Then, the bank officer gave me money. The fact ensured my understanding that the job was legal. Then, as a result, I changed a second set of Travelers Cheques totaling $7,000.

On Thursday, I went to the bank office after a phone call regarding the fact that the Travelers Cheques that I had cashed had defaulted. After meeting with the bank officers, they made a phone call to the police station about this problem. After a while, the police came to the bank and we went to the police station to further investigate the matter. Then, at 4:30 a.m., the police went to my room with me and collected all information related to the case, and took some documents (transfer money application forms), some CDs and my PC.

I was very surprised when the bank officers told me that all of the cheques were counterfeit as I did not intend to give the bank fraudulent cheques or otherwise deceive. I did not know whether these were genuine or counterfeit cheques, I thought that the bank cashed them because they were real cheques. Had I known that these cheques were counterfeit, I wound have not cashed them and transferred the funds to a criminal. I think that this is a big problem because I became a victim of a criminal who convinced me to break the law.

Anytime someone wants to do a transaction with you where you’re supposed to deposit a check and send part of the balance somewhere else, usually by wire transfer or Western Union, invariably it’s a scam. Same thing goes for just about anything emanating out of Nigeria. You might laugh at this student’s naivete because it makes you feel like a big man and wonder how anyone could fall for it, but it happens, someone will always fall for these frauds…otherwise the con artists wouldn’t sit there at the internet cafe all day sending out emails.