The scam has been used with fax and traditional mail, and is now prevalent in online communications like emails.
While Nigeria is most often the nation referred to in these scams, they originate in other nations as well.
The woman believed she would be paying to have the money—including the repayment of her $2 million—transferred to the U. from South Africa, where Charlie was still supposedly working.
In July 2016, the two Nigerian co-conspirators pleaded guilty in connection with their roles in the scam, and a federal judge sentenced them each to 36 months in prison last December.
Upon finding victims, scammers lure them to more private means of communication, (such as providing an e-mail address) to allow for fraud to occur.
The fraud typically involves the scammer acting as if they've quickly fallen for the victim so that when they have the opportunity to ask for money, the victim at that time has become too emotionally involved, and will have deep feelings of guilt if they decline the request for money from the scammer.
“The Internet makes this type of crime easy because you can pretend to be anybody you want to be.
You can be anywhere in the world and victimize people,” she said.The standard scam story then starts to unfold as your online date suddenly has some sort of emergency in Nigeria or Ghana.The stories may range from a businessman having an accident while in Nigeria for work to a helpless woman being stranded in Ghana; from asking for charity donations for Africa to a family member having a brain hemorrhage while in Africa.In exchange for assistance, the scammer promised to share money with the victim in exchange for a small amount of money to bribe prison guards.One variant of the scam may date back to the 18th or 19th centuries, as a very similar letter, entitled "The Letter from Jerusalem", is seen in the memoirs of Eugène François Vidocq, a former French criminal and private investigator. One of these, sent via postal mail, was addressed to a woman's husband, and inquired about his health.“The perpetrators will reach out to a lot of people on various networking sites to find somebody who may be a good target.