From Nigeria with love – Eileen Ormsby

21 May 2014

Nigerian scammers are back with a vengeance, more sophisticated than before and using online dating and auction sites to rip off tens of millions of dollars a year from vulnerable Australians.

EVEN our computer recognises when something is too good to be true, so we don’t see them so much any more – those emails offering untold wealth if we help a dignitary move a fortune from a hostile country, or notifying us of massive winnings in lotteries we don’t recall entering. And for the few that don’t go straight to junk mail we hit ”delete” without another thought.

Why, then, are tens of thousands of Australians still losing more than $55 million a year to mass-marketed advance fee fraud (scams tricking people into paying money upfront to secure a financial or emotional benefit at a later date), more commonly known as ”Nigerian” or ”419” scams?

Some may think it could never happen to us because we, and our computers, have become more sophisticated. But, then, so have the conmen.

”Scammers are constantly evolving and finding new ways to trick victims into parting with their money,” says Ken Gamble, of Internet Fraud Watchdog.

The scammers who used to send us the emails are now finding their victims through legitimate dating and auction sites. In what have become known as romance scams, once the fraudsters hook their victim they use voice-changing devices to hide Nigerian accents or employ sophisticated software to make victims believe they are video chatting with attractive models.

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