Thursday, November 20, 2008

Nigerian E-Mail Scheme Bilks Oregon Woman of $400,000

An Oregon woman fell for the well-known Nigerian email scheme, which defrauded her of $400,000. She doesn't feel that she was an easy mark, and because the email identified a long-lost relative, she thought everything was on the up and up.

Sweet Home, OR - We've all heard of them or at least knew someone who has received an email from an individual in Nigeria claiming that there were funds from a now-deceased relative waiting to be dispersed to them or some variation of that theme and that help was needed to get the money out of the country. Most of us simply hit delete, but Janella Spears told AP that it only made her became more curious.

The particular email that she received stated that "if" she helped this long-lost relative, her grandfather "J.B. Spears", she would then be entitled to $20. million. "That's what got me to believe it," She said. "So, why wouldn't you send over $100?" Spears sent the first $100 through an untraceable wire service as directed by the scammers. But that wasn't enough, and the scammers continued asking for more money over the next two years with the promise of the multimillion dollar pay-off, provided she sent the amounts asked for. She mortgaged her home, took out a lien against the car, and even tapped into her husband's retirement fund.

As AP reports:
Her family and bank officials told her it was all a scam, she said, and begged her to stop, but she persisted because she became obsessed with getting paid.For all her efforts, she was sent official-looking documents, supposedly from the Bank of Nigeria and the United Nations. The scammers assured her that President Bush and the Director of the FBI were involved, claiming that her money was "guaranteed." And as you can guess, it wasn't. Now Spears is saddled with debt that is going to take two years to clear up. Her husband's retirement fund was to have been for "cruising and going around and seeing America — is pretty much gone for him right now," she said.

The lesson she learned was costly. Spears said:"The hope is [other people] are not going to fall as hard as I fell."