The media is often covering the stories of individuals and whole families who have lost anywhere from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars to Nigerian Scams. Dubbed “Nigerian” or 419 scams, most of them originate from African countries. If one falls for such a scheme, it is pretty much impossible to get your money back.
People do in fact fall for these scams, and they are swiftly moving to real estate.
The Saskatchewan Leader Post recently reported on a couple who thought they’d sold their home to a British doctor, only to find out he didn’t exist after investigating further. The entire transaction turned out to be a Nigerian scam for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The couple was extremely lucky as they caught it in time, but many others aren’t. Other scams may include people sending cheques for amounts much larger than the price of the home, and the sellers are then advised to send them a cheque for the extra money. These scams are especially prevalent in for sale by owner transactions because of the lack of protection sellers have.
These scams are essentially the same as the ones you’ll find in your inbox. You know the ones: all in capital letters, poorly spelled and that promise unbelievable riches. They’re often from an ambassador, minister, prince or long-lost relative. They have a bunch of money they need to move, and if you cash their fake cheque and send them the majority, you can keep a hefty chunk for yourself – lucky you!
They seem like goofy, harmless e-mails, but some scams have gone as far as to invite people to Nigeria to meet with “officials” and claim paper money that only turns into legal currency when a special chemical solution is rubbed on it. Really.
Some of these individuals have been kidnapped, and there is one documented case of a Canadian man being found murdered after flying to South Africa to claim the money he was promised.
Most of these letters are not addressed to you by name and are marked as urgent and confidential. They may mention needing to move money out of a West African country or request your banking information. Some of the scams mention illegal activities or difficulties transferring money because of government regulations, while others are based in safe and legal transactions, such as real estate.
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