Click Here: A Skeptical Look at Nigerian Email Scams

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Regardless of how hard you try to not spread your email address around, you still wind up getting letters from people pleading for your help. Commonly referred to as “Nigerian Scams,” there are many variants as people have become wise to this form of exploitation. The artists of these messages may go through great lengths in order to make a letter sound legitimate in order to pull you into this web of deceit. No matter how legitimate emails may seem to be, there are always tell-tale signs that they are indeed fake.

1. Dear Friend

Nearly 99.9-percent of the time, these messages are spawned from bots that have access to an email list without names. Using an opening such as “friend,” “beneficiary,” “dearest,” or anything else that isn’t your proper name is a good sign that they don’t know it. If someone is willing to hand over millions of dollars or a fraction of their business, you can be rest assured that they will already have your name and information and wouldn’t be contacting you in an email.

2. Undisclosed Recipients 

Emails that belong to a mass-mailer bot will either have “undisclosed recipients,” a long list of email addresses, or be completely blank in the address details of the message. This means that the email has been sent to a large group of people including yourself. In messages where they have your “ATM card ready” or need to “verify” your personal information in order to release the millions of dollars to you, many people have seen it as well. It may sound personal, but that’s the goal.

3. Email Addresses

This aspect of a scam email may be a little difficult for novice users to understand. Many times, a message will be from Nigeria but the email address will be using a “.hk” domain level. This means that they are using a domain reserved for Hong Kong. Within the message, they may be using a “.nz” address for you to respond to. This is the domain level for New Zealand. In the specifics of the email, which may be difficult for some to access, the sending server could be from “” This is an indicator the “” has been infected with a bot that is spamming email from this particular server. Since Bob is likely not related to the Nigerian prince in any way, this is an obvious indication the email is fake. Never trust an email that is so convoluted in this fashion. If it is a legitimate opportunity, they wouldn’t try so hard to hide the email address.

4. Links

Never trust links to verify your account information that are presented in an email. It is easy to code a link to take you to a fraudulent site while making it “look” legitimate within the email. Even if the message states that your account is going to be closed if you don’t act now, always manually enter the website by using your browser. This is a common practice for scam emails that involve PayPal, Blizzard, and a slew of others. Unless the actual programmed link is https:// to indicate a secured server, there is a good chance the link is fake. Companies will also use your name when contacting you in any way. For instance, PayPal will always message you using your full name on the account and never “user”, “account holder,” or “customer.”


The bottom line is that you should never willingly hand over your personal information to anyone over the Internet. Even if the email looks amazingly real, there could be a chance that it’s not. Always verify information provided in these emails by running a Google search on names, locations, addresses, and any other specific detail within the message. There is a good chance that someone else has received this message and has posted his or her findings on the Internet.


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