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An advance-fee scam is a form of fraud and one of the most common types of confidence trick.
The scam typically involves promising the victim a significant share of a large sum of money, in return for a small up-front payment, which the fraudster requires in order to obtain the large sum.
He said he wanted to transfer million to the recipient’s bank account – money that was budgeted, but was never spent.
Other official-looking letters were sent from a writer who said he was a director of the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
One reason Nigeria may have been singled out is the apparently comical, almost ludicrous nature of the promise of West African riches from a Nigerian prince.
According to Cormac Herley, a Microsoft researcher, "By sending an email that repels all but the most gullible, the scammer gets the most promising marks to self-select." In Nigeria, scammers use computers in Internet cafés to send mass emails promising potential victims riches or romance, and to trawl for replies.
While Nigeria is most often the nation referred to in these scams, they may originate in other nations as well.
For example, in 2006, 61% of Internet criminals were traced to locations in the United States, while 16% were traced to the United Kingdom and 6% to locations in Nigeria.