Last Updated on by SCARS Editorial Team

SCARSSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS.™ Guide: Standard Nigerian ScamsScams A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. & Online FraudFraud In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain (money or other assets), or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compensation) or criminal law (e.g., a fraud perpetrator may be prosecuted and imprisoned by governmental authorities), or it may cause no loss of money, property, or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong. The purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver's license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements. A fraud can also be a hoax, which is a distinct concept that involves deliberate deception without the intention of gain or of materially damaging or depriving a victim.

This guide is an introduction. Please review our other guides and articles for more detailed information about all the forms of scams and how victims can recover from them.

Internet Financial Scams

We hear from people every day who have been defrauded for hundreds or thousands of dollars by Internet contacts they thought were their friends or loved ones.

Internet scams are attempts by con artists (cybercriminals) to convince you to send them money. In Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa, these scams are also referred to as 419 scams.

The most common scams involve someone allegedly in Nigeria who is in some sort of trouble, ranging from detention to extortion or hospitalization.  Inevitably, the sender is making an appeal for money.  If this is someone you have not met personally, we urge you to stop corresponding with whoever sent the message, and please do not send any money to Nigeria or anywhere else.

Scammers Troll The Internet

In many cases, scammers troll the Internet for victims and spend weeks or months building a relationship. Once they have gained their victim’s trust, the scammers create a false situation and ask for money. Scammers can be very clever and deceptive, creating sad and believable stories that will make you want to send them money.

Before You Send Money

Before you send money, check to see if you recognize any of the following signs, and realize that you may be a potential victim of a scamScam A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost.:

  • You only know your friend or fiancé online and may never have met in person.
  • Photographs of the scammerScammer A Scammer or Fraudster is someone that engages in deception to obtain money or achieve another objective. They are criminals that attempt to deceive a victim into sending more or performing some other activity that benefits the scammer. show a very attractive person and appear to have been taken at a professional modeling agency or photo studio. If they provide you with a copy of their passport or visa, you can always contact the U.S. embassy in the country where the passport or visa was issued to verify the validity of the document.
  • The scammer’s luck is incredibly bad – he/she is in a car crash, or arrested, or mugged, or beaten, or hospitalized. Close family members are dead or unable to assist. Sometimes, the scammer claims to have a young child overseas who is ill or hospitalized.
  • You have sent money for visas or plane tickets but they can’t seem to make it to their destinations, citing detention by immigration officials, or other reasons that prevent them from traveling.
  • Beware of anyone who requests funds for a BTA, or Basic Travel Allowance, as a requirement to depart another country for the United States. There is no such thing as a BTA. In other cases, your Internet friend will claim to need a travel allowance, or travel money, to be able to travel to the United States. Again, there is no such requirement under U.S. law.
  • The scammer claims to have been born and raised in the United States but uses poor grammar and spelling indicative of a non-native English speaker.
  • Although the scammer may claim to be in Nigeria, he or she may ask that the money be sent to an account in another country. Alternatively, the scammer may state he or she is in a third country but request that funds be sent to Nigeria.
  • The scammer may even claim to be contacting you from a U.S. Embassy, where your partner, business associate, or friend is being detained pending pay