Protect yourself from Nigerian email scam artists by deleting any messages you get that are purportedly from Nigerian officials soliciting your involvement in plans to get large sums of money out of the country, reports the Federal Trade Commission. Do not respond at all, and especially do not send any personal or financial information, cautions the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Report the scam email to the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI or the Federal Trade Commission Complaint Assistant.
Scam artists who send email messages from Nigeria claim to be business people, government officials or their spouses with large sums of money tied up in banks, explains the Federal Trade Commission. They solicit help to pay taxes or other fees to release the money and offer to send a generous sum in compensation. If people respond to their initial request, the scammers often are able to provide official-looking documents to substantiate their stories. After people send them money, instead of receiving the windfall, they receive requests for more funds due to difficulties that arise. When people travel to Nigeria in response to these email messages, the scam artists beat, threaten and sometimes kill them.
Once people realize they are victims of a scam and stop sending money, the scammers often use the account information that they have to steal the identities of their victims and drain their financial accounts, according to the FBI. If you realize you may be a victim of identity theft, take steps to protect your finances and credit by notifying your financial institutions, placing a fraud alert and reporting the theft, warns the Federal Trade Commission.