Why Do Internet Scammers Always Hail From Nigeria?

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In the six months before I left New York, I had to fill the two other bedrooms in my apartment, which meant two long, tedious Craigslist searches for roommates. Each time, I received no fewer than 100 applicants, though 10 percent of them always looked something like this (copied verbatim):

Hello Rommie!!
How are u doing? hope fine? if so, glory be to almighty God. I saw your Advert that u have a rom/apt. to be sub-leased. am interested in renting the room/apt. It suits the type of place i need for my comfort and work. Am a lady of 29 yrs old and a British. I was born and brought up in London. I lived all my life there.
Am a medical practisional, a doctor to be precised but presently in West Africa (Nigeria) for a program which will be ending soon. i and the rest of my collegues will be coming to U.S.A (United State of America) for another program (HIV/AIDS seminal) which will last for some months or even a year. we’ll be there to educate and give the people some medical diagnosis on HIV/AIDS.
I will like to lease the room/apt for the period which i will be there for the program cos it prefer staying there than staying in a hotel . pls response by mailing me and tell me if the room/apt is still available and then get back to me with the deposite amount . I cant wait to read from u soon.
Thanking u in anticipation

Always British (or rather, claimed to be), always with a terrible (mis)representation of the English language, always residing in “West Africa (Nigeria).” Now, I’m a smart girl—plus, I would be living with the person! and you know prevalent spelling and grammatical errors are simply unacceptable (not to mention, they sounded like total weirdos)—so I never responded to any of these. But apparently, not everyone is so wise; around the same time, my friends Brent and Karen in Statesboro, Georgia were on the Atlanta news for being scammed by yet another Craigslister, whose e-mails were nearly identical to the ones I was receiving. Luckily, they realized they were victims before it was too late.

Fast forward a year and a half. While home last week, I was on a tedious hunt for a new Maltese puppy to add to my family’s canine clan (we currently have four males and want a new female to breed to our show dog, Kobe, so SVV and I can have one of our own(!)).*** I came across a few options via the Tennessean classifieds and sites like Petfinder.com and sent out some feelers. I received this response after a week:

The puppy is AKC RegIistered,has all shots upto date. she’s vet checked.

But unfortunately,she’s just been adopted,some few days ago and I just sold to Mr. Richard in (Vidor,TX),But you can get in touch with Another One of my

customer that I sold another puppy to,who is looking for caring parent to adopt the the lil pup now.

His name is Evangelist Mike Tison, he called me that he had been transfered to West Africa on a christian mission,due to his immediate relocation, he went

with his wife, and also had the puppy with him overthere.

His commitment to the work of God could not enable his to stay with the puppy often according to him,and that the climatic condition of the country is too

harsh for the puppy’s health, so he needs a caring parent who can adopt the baby back to the United States of America as soon as possible.

he will provide the shipping agent to have the puppies shipped back to you.

But i suggest you contact him soon as possible Via Email: mitison@gmail.com

He will be very much delightfull to hear from you,so as to have this puppy shipped to you asap.

HE REQUESTED,  a caring and loving parent for his baby,and i am so sure he will be so excited if he knows I directed you to him.

Kindly notify me immediately the baby is adopted

Now, I realize that I am from Tennessee, and this part of the country is not known for great grammar. I was vaguely suspicious by the wording (especially of the “Mr. Richard (Vidor, TX)” part–I mean, why would I need to know such a superfluous detail) but still emailed “Evangelist Mike Tison” anyhow, writing a long-winded account of what good dog owners we are and even including several pics of us with our own pups. I figured since he resided in Nigeria, he wouldn’t get back to me for weeks. I mean, Internet can’t be all that ubiquitous there, can it? But lo, his response was almost instantaneous:

Thanks for emaling me about my babies and i have them available with me. they are  my real babies and It`s really hard letting off this Angels but I have to if I really love them. I am currently on an Christian mission to the west africa in a country called Nigeria and I came down with my babies. I got here to see that my babies are not meant for this kind of place. I need a God fearing person that will be there for this babies I am giving them out for free adoption, It`s only the shipping charge that is needed to get them back to the U.S.A.

My babies name are derby(female) and terry(male). they are  3months old 1week, Currently vaccinated, Vet Examined, Health certified and comes with a 1yr health guarantee the puppies are potty trained, home  raised and family socialized as well as crate trained, they have tremendous attitude, excellent temperament with great personalty, very friendly with other pets and little kids, they have an incredible high rate of learning and they are AKC registered, recently dewormed, current on all shots, well animated .

My church member love them so much but I could not let any of them adopt the babies because it`s still same west africa. Let me have your full mailing address,contact phone number and the nearest airport to your home so as to determine what the shipping and handling charge would be from my shipping agent that shipped them into west africa for me.

Please be a Dearing parent to this Angels when they arrived your home because they are my  babies, they will be missed but I will always remember you and them in my daily prayers. Please see attached pics of derby and terry

God bless you.

Again, the diction caught me a bit off guard, but I was more distracted by three-month-old puppy! Free of charge! (Malteses are notoriously expensive.) Shots taken care of! POTTY TRAINED!  And there were pictures of the cute little cottonballs themselves! I read the e-mail to SVV and my mom, and we were all giddy with the hopes of a new addition to our family. Though one thought that crossed SVV’s mind, since he lived in Sicily and had to bring his cat back to the US following his three-year deployment, was the possibility of a long-term quarantine. So he started researching that, while I Googled “shipping costs pets Nigeria.”

THIS was the first thing returned to me.

And then it all made sense. The man buying a dog and “suddenly” being shipped to West Africa. The weird phrasing by all parties involved. The vague semblance of a stock response. After stumbling upon the insightful scammer article, I replied to “Evangelist Mike Tison:” “Hmmm…” with the link inserted, and shocker, haven’t heard back. I’m usually not one to so easily fall prey to such a ploy, but when you add little white cuteness into the mix, apparently I throw all caution to the wind. Besides, it was really the whole God/missionary thing that initially caught me off guard. WHO DOES THAT, posing as a disciple of the Lord? I hope these scammers get their just desserts (read: go to Hell) for bringing the Big Guy Upstairs into it, and I hope this serves as a warning for any out there who might have been as naive as I nearly was.

Also? Next time I’m passing through Nigeria, “Evangelist Mike Tison” will regret the day he ever crossed this hot-tempered blogger.

***Please e-mail me if, by some stroke of God, you happen to be or know a Maltese breeder in the TN/northern GA/AL/southern KY area and aren’t of Nigerian descent.

  • January 4, 2009

    Thank God for Google, right?

  • January 4, 2009

    I had the SAME thing happen to me when we were looking for a bulldog breeder! How annoying. sheesh good luck

  • January 4, 2009

    I get the old fashioned financial scam emails all the time and I respond to them for my own entertainment!

  • January 4, 2009

    Wow, they’re everywhere! I get emails in this style every once in awhile from people claiming they’ve just come to town and are setting up a new business. They see that I’m looking for work and that I am in marketing, so would I like to be a business investor? It makes me laugh. Like dude, what part of BROKE and UNEMPLOYED don’t you understand? Even if I fell for the ploy, I have no money to invest! And if I’m looking for marketing work, why would I be interested in investing in a new startup? Not even close to the same thing. At least yours got their target market right!

    Glad you figured this out before wiring any money over his way. And good luck finding a puppy. Squee!

  • January 4, 2009

    I got scammed in Thailand by a horrible tailor and I consider myself pretty darn savvy. So, enh, it can happen, particularly when you’re searching for a new pet. It’s a vulnerable time!

    Good luck on your pooch search. I think Buster would LOVE to befriend a Maltese. His bestie in NYC (Pele) was a malti-poo.

  • January 4, 2009

    Oy vey.

    I have a feeling that ou would kick some serious ass. Just sayin’…

  • January 4, 2009

    I meant YOU. Sheesh.

  • January 4, 2009

    Flippin’ scammers. Good luck! There was the cutest puppy in our parking lot and I actually considered letting Taylor take me to the pet store. Might not be long for us…

  • January 5, 2009

    Those scammers get more and more creative! I knew they were bad about pets. I always feel sorry for the older people who are new to the internet and get screwed. (Although sending thousands of dollars to Nigeria? Does that REALLY sound like a good idea?)

    As for puppies, good luck finding a maltese. You can check out the classifieds in the Louisville, Kentucky paper. (It’s courier-journal.com) They usually have a big selection of puppies. (Although I know it’s a drive, but it’s closer than Nigeria! 🙂 )

  • January 5, 2009

    thanks again for not letting “Queen” move in when you moved out :). good luck with the puppy search; wish you would’ve needed a weima-boxer…

  • January 5, 2009

    i’m sorry. i am still laughing at the fact that you even emailed Evangelist Mike Tison! ahahah!

  • January 5, 2009

    When people tell me they’re well, I’m going to start responding with “glory be to almighty God.”

  • January 5, 2009

    Wow – I keep reading that first one over and over again and I am crying with laughter – “if so, glory be to almighty God.”

    Good luck with finding a puppy 🙂

  • January 6, 2009

    One of my coworkers was the victim of a major scam by someone in Nigeria and unfortunately even ended up losing her job over it. There are some seriously wacked out people over there doing anything to weasel money out of people.

    I hope you find a dog!

  • January 6, 2009

    We had a scammer try to buy something we had listed on craigslist. It seemed kind of fishy at first, but then we realized what was going on. I think they were going to pay us with a money order or wire us cash or something like that. We weren’t about to give out our bank account to a total stranger.

  • January 6, 2009

    How sad!! It’s shocking how these people can live with themselves. This all reminded me of the camera scam that I went through last year. If it seems too good to be true…

  • January 6, 2009

    We once got a $10k check in the mail from someone from Nigeria. Like, an HONEST TO GOODNESS TEN THOUSAND DOLLAR CHECK. Also, of course, accompanied by a grammatically “festive” letter. You’re so right . . . it is always somehow Nigeria, and always with the grammar!

  • January 6, 2009

    I have to laugh that you even emailed him back!

    If Nigeria is anywhere in there, I know it is fake. Those poor Nigerians. They’ll never be taken seriously.

    Also, when I was on Yahoo personals, a Nigerian guy used to IM me all the time asking me to be his princess.

  • January 6, 2009

    That’s insane! They really do get more and more creative. My favorite line is “Please be a Dearing parent to this Angels.” I like to think that my love for my kids enables me to say that I, too, am a Dearing parent to this Angels. It’s not bragging, since it’s true, you know? 😉

  • January 6, 2009

    Um, wow.

    There was a SUPER INTERESTING This American Life episode not too long ago in which people here in the U.S. engaged with these scammers and kind of scammed them back.

  • January 9, 2009

    also, why do they always lay on the religion..praise be to the glory of god!

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