Anatomy of a Typical Nigerian Scam

We get about 10 or so of these a week. I am sure most of you have gotten them as well. There are several versions. This one was to "buy" something on Craigslist. It is very easy to spot the scammers:

1) Responses most always say "Is this still for Sale?
2) Responses are in broken English with terrible spelling and grammar.
3) They aways are buying the item for someone else, son, daughter and need it shipped out of state.
4) Most always want to pay by Paypal or Western Union.

It goes like this:

1) This is the ad:

Black Macbook (Intel Core 2) - $500 (Milton Freewater, OREGON)

Date: 2011-09-03, 10:44AM PDT
Reply to: your anonymous craigslist address will appear here

Nice Black Macbook Core 2. These are rare. They were about $400 more expensive when new than the white Macbooks.


• Intel Core 2
• 2.16 Mhz processors
• 2 GB ram
• 320 GB Hard drive
• Superdrive (Reads/Writes DVD & CD)
• Fresh Install of OS 10.7 Lion (ready for your info!)

This Macbook in in good condition...NOrmal wear for its age. Have replaced the hard drive about 2 years ago with a larger one (it came with a 150 as I remember) I have enjoyed this Macbook and have kept it longer than I should have as I like the Black model...time to upgrade now.

Inquiries of "Is it still available" or obvious scammers will be ignored...won't waste my your numbers already...


Here is our conversation over several emails:

Him: Red
Me: Blue

"Is it for sale?"

(I knew already that he was a scammer. My ad made it clear I did not want any responses like that. But I decided I could use some free entertainment so I responded.)


"Hi.i am interested...Do you have a paypal account i can use to
pay you?if you do ,i will need your paypal emai...You will be sending
it out to my son otta states.ok"

"Where are you located"

"i am located in utah but i want you to mail it out to my son studying
otta states,paypal will give you the full shipping address to ship it
to,get back to me with your paypal email asap."

"No Thanks"

"What do you mean?"

"Too many scammers on Craigslist…you are too far away…just not worth the risk of you buying it sand then withdrawing the funds on Paypal…BEEN THERE DONE THAT…You want to send the money Western Union CASH to us then we might have something. Otherwise…buy one local.

There are many available right there in Utah."

"Okay then,i can settle or a westernunion,let me have your info right

"We have the Black Macbook Core 2 Due for sale for $500.

If you want it. We will ship it to anywhere in the USA for free. That
will be done by USPS Priority Mail and I will send you tracking info. That
would go out today.

You can send funds to any Western Union Agent in Milton Freewater, Oregon
97862. Send Will Call. Make the funds payable in CASH:

So the total will be:

$500 for the Macbook

Sorry but Carigslist Scams are rampant and I don't have to to hunt you
down later" (I am sure at this point he is very excited…."Got one!")

"Hello danny,
i have made out the payment to the westernunuion details you gave to
me,The bank will soon mail confirming the funds is with them but will
not release the mtcn until you ship and get back to them with the
tracking number for verification..This is the shipping address..
  Name-Carter  James
  Address:303 rd,Ijesha Rd Itire
  City: Surulere
  State: Lagos
  Country: Nigeria
  Zip Code: 23401  So head out now to the nearest usps express mail
postoffice to ship the item and get back to the bank with the tracking
(Well…Surprise…Surprise..Nigeria :-)

From: western-unioncustomercare
Date: September 1, 2011 1:21:34 PM PDT
To: Danny J Goff

         Western Union Money Transfer Payment  


Dear Western union Customer,
We have not  got the Shipping Reference Number ( from you,We Contacted United Postal Service (USPS) to confirm the Shipment,We were told to Check back later in the day,You will have the confirmation number in the next 12 to 24 hrs as soon as the shipment is confirmed.We are sorry for any Inconveniences.
Email back for any help.

Western union Customer Care Representative

(Interesting that Western Union is using gmail for their customer service email?…or course if I had wanted to use Paypal, I would have received a similar email from "them".)

My response to him was more "colorful" than I am willing to share :-) I will admit I questioned his "Lineage" :-)

It was fun to play with him. Have not done that for a while. But the sad thing is that a lot of people are sucked into these and the other Nigerian scams and lose money and product along the way. If you list anything large in Craigslist you WILL most likely get one of these responses.

Typical scams:

1) Someone has died in a tragic accident in Nigeria (or another country)…it is usually a cousin or something and they have left behind $20 million dollars. They need your assistance to get it into the US as the Govt in Nigeria is corrupt (as if ours isn't :-). All they need is all your banking info to make this transaction. They are ever so happy to give you HALF for getting into the USA. They of course will need you to send them some money for "expenses"..just a $1000 or so…after will be getting 10 Million in just a few days??? ($1000 to them where they make an average of $40 a year is quite a haul!)

2) You have made an overpayment..send all your info as above to get a huge refund.

3) The IRS has made a mistake in your taxes and you are due a huge refund.

4) Etc..etc…etc…