Your Nigerian inheritance is waiting!

An online friend of mine from a small Siberian town recently posted on her blog about how her mother fell for a scam and lost the family savings in hopes of getting some nonexistent inheritance from Africa.

My friend gave her elderly parents a computer, but it did them more harm than good. They received an email — allegedly from the employee of a bank — written in poor English but with amazing news: Anna Sergeyevna (name changed), my friend’s mother, was in line for a million-dollar inheritance. As it turned out, they had a relative in Africa, Mr. John Sergeyev, who had passed away. Mr. Sergeyev had no heirs, but his lawyer began to search for his client’s relatives online, and after much time and effort, he had finally found them in this small Siberian town.

After a short email exchange, the apparent heiress was asked to wire over some cash to cover overheads before the inheritance could be delivered. My friend’s mother wired over several thousand dollars through the local Sberbank branch to the account specified in the email.

After that, all communication stopped — emails and phone calls elicited no response.

Nigerian scammers

Unfortunately, Anna Sergeyevna was yet another victim of the so-called Nigerian scammers. Their scams (also called Nigerian 419 scams) are fairly straightforward: they send out emails typically requesting assistance in cashing out a very large sum of money (usually worth millions of dollars), proposing to split a large share of someone else’s money with the recipient, or telling the recipient that they are due to receive a large inheritance. But in order to successfully execute these transactions, the intermediary or the alleged heir needs to first cover some minor (compared to the riches to come) costs. The scammers are always armed with scanned documents to show their potential victims, and back up their claims with evidence of legal support or the word of a respectable figure which backs up the tales told in the initial email. Regardless of the fine print, though, the result is always the same: once they get your money, they vanish.

Each month, Kaspersky Lab filters intercept tens of thousands of Nigerian scam letters in different languages.

Glossary: Nigerian letter fraud

Synonym for “419 scam

These 419 scams have been covered online and in the press. But there will always be people who have either just started to use the World Wide Web or who choose not to listen to sound advice, and those who are simply naïve and genuinely believe the scammers’ promises.

These scams have been doing the rounds for some time: the first Nigerian scam letters offering large sums of money appeared in the 1980s and were sent then by plain old snail mail. With the emergence of the Internet, Nigerian scammers welcomed the new advantages of emails. These days, Nigerian scam mailings are organized by scammers in countries all over the world.

The first Nigerian scam letters were allegedly written by the widows or children of Nigerian government officials, whose millions could only be cashed abroad. This is how the scam took on the name of “Nigerian” scam letters. Later, the stories fabricated by the scammers became more varied and inspired, and even won the Ig Nobel Prize (an American parody of the Nobel Prizes) for literature in 2005.

Tell us the tales!

Typically, scammers have just a few tricks in their bag that can be combined in one email. Nevertheless, each premise has several variations: the names used can be those of politicians, the fatal diseases and stories involving bloody murders can sometimes be impressive, and the amounts of money are always substantial — nothing less than fifty thousand dollars or euros.

The classic

Below is one example of the classic Nigerian email, where the author discusses the death of his father. Only in this example, to bring it into line with the latest news, the father was not killed during the Nigerian civil war, but was instead a victim of Gaddafi’s regime.

From: “Hassan”

Before I proceed, I must first apologize for this unsolicited mail to you. I’M the Daughter of late Mr Hame, who wasassistant secretary of Muammar Gaddafi who is now dead.

My father was among those GADDAFI killed as inside enemy, but before the fightI was taken by boot to Spain here in my father private house, so that I can take care of his investment here in Spain, and my father leave some amount of money for me here in one of the private security company here, and now I want to move this moneyout of this country

I have told my lawyer about it, all I need is a trust worthy person. So that when the money is transferred into his or her account, he or she can help me for visa and other papers I needed to live in that country, you have 10 of any amount transferred into your account.

If you are willing, then email my lawyer at this and his name is Barr. Martinez Luis So that he can explain to you more about this, if you want to come down here and see by yourself,

Regards ,
Habbib Al Hassan


The lonely young heiress who needs your help

One classic set-up is a letter written by a young lady who has inherited a large estate somewhere in a war-torn African country. These emails typically target men who are registered with online dating sites (of course, these beautiful young ladies always upload their photos).

The contents of these emails go something like this:

“I am the daughter of a murdered millionaire, a refugee hiding from my father’s killer. I have a bank account holding my late father’s estate, but I need help to get it out of the bank. I can even fly to you to take care of all of the transactions with your help in your country. I am so young, and so lonely…”

The inheritance

Someone else’s inheritance is all well and good, but your own is even better. At least, that seems to be the scammers’ logic behind this type of scam email, which informs recipients of large estates bequeathed to them from previously unknown, wealthy relatives:

“Your relative in [insert very far away country here] has passed away. You did not know him, but you are his only heir. I am his lawyer [accountant, pastor], and I will help you with the paperwork.”

Dear ,

I am paul koffi (S.A.T),writing you in respect of my deceased client Late Mr.P.A.Sergeev,who died On the 21st of April 2003 along with his entire family.I have been trying to locate any member of his family to assist in repartrating the fund he deposited in finance house valued at USD$10.5million.

Please i would like you to contact me through my private email address so that i can give the detail concerning the claim.

I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.

God bless you.
Best Regards,
Barr.koffi paul(S.A.T)


This is the type of letter that my friend’s mother received.

The dead guy’s loot

In this version, the person who has died is not a relative, but someone with the same name. He does not have any living relatives or heirs, nor has he written a will – and sadly it seems that all his vast wealth will go straight to the government! Rather than see the money go to waste, staff at the bank where the estate is held have apparently sought out a potential recipient, someone with the same surname who can claim the cash. And in exchange for their efforts, they ask for a small pittance of just 30% of the total amount.

But what if no one with the same name as the late millionaire can be found? Not to worry; the cash can still be shared out. The late millionaire has no living relatives, and his money is stuck in the bank. But the employees at the bank encourage the recipient to serve as the heir, and in exchange for their efforts, the new-found heir will grant them a portion of the plunder.

From: Paul Kunert
Dear Sir,
Strictly ConfidentialIt gives me a great deal of pleasure to write you this mail and even when it might come to you as a surprise. My name is Paul Kunert. I am a client services manager with a bank here in Europe. I would like to use this medium to ask your assistance.

I have in the course of my duties come in contact with an account that has been inactive for some years now and a careful investigation proved the depositor of the funds died five years ago. All attempts to reach the supposed beneficiary of the deposit were fruitless and before it is forfeited to the state, can you assume next of kin? I look forward to hearing from you.

Respectfully yours, Paul Kunert


The philanthropist in search of a good Samaritan

Nigerian scam letters are also sent allegedly from wealthy figures on their death beds, looking for just one good and honest soul to whom they can bequeath their entire estate. As a rule, the protagonist of these emails is childless, a millionaire widower or widow (the latter being the most common version).

Here is an example of this type of scam:

From: “Veronica Nelson”
Subject: From Mrs. Veronica NelsonAccra Ghana.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am the above named person, but now undergoing medical treatment in
(UCTH).I married to Dr. Olumide George Nelson, who worked with the Ghana
Embassy in South Africa for nine years before he died in the year
2005.Before his death we were both devoted Christian.

Since his death, I decided not to re-marry or get a child outside my
matrimonial home, which the bible is against. When my late husband was
alive, he deposited the sum of USD$7, Million (Seven Million U.S .Dollars)
with Asset Management Company. The firm is a private company that accepts
Cash deposits from high net worth individuals and blue chip corporations
that handle valuable assets/ products or undertake transactions that need
immediate access to cash. This highly and private organization is familiar
especially to the highly placed and well-connected organizations.

Recently, my doctor told me that due to cancer problem that he is not sure
of my life. Though what disturbs me most is my stroke. Having known this
condition, I have decided to donate this fund to orphanages and widows
propagating the world of God and to ensure that the house of God is
maintained. The Bible made us to understand that blessed is the hand that

I took this decision because I don’t have any child that will inherit this
money and my husband’s relatives are not devoted Christians and they have
taking over all my late husband properties so don’t want a situation where
this money will be used in an UN-Godly Manner because of my childlessness,
been the reason for taking this bold decision. I know that I am going to
be in the bosom of the Lord. Exodus 14 VS 14 says that The Lord Will Fight
My Case and I Shall Hold My Peace. I don’t need any telephone conversation
in this regard because of my health, and because of the Presence of my
husband’s relatives who are always around me in the hospital. I don’t want
them to know about this development. With God all things are possible.

As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of My Family
Lawyer who will direct you on the way forward to complete this transaction
and he will also send to you all the documents covering this fund with the
Company, this document will empower you to act as the original beneficiary
of the funds. I want you, the orphanage and widows to always pray for me
because the Lord Is My Shepherd. Any delay in your response will give me
the room of sourcing for a Non-Profit/NGO that cares for

Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I stated herein and
provide me with all your contact details through the above email.

Remain Blessed In The Name Of The Lord.

Mrs. Veronica Nelson
Reply to:**************


The business proposal

Disgraced millionaires don’t escape the scammers’ attentions either — their money can be divvied up as well!

An alleged lawyer, accountant or personal assistant to some well-known person needs help: his client’s (or boss’s) money can’t be cashed out in their native country, but it can be transferred abroad to someone’s account. You’ll get 50% of the sum for helping out!

We received these types of letters from, allegedly, an assistant to the son of the ousted Egyptian President Mubarak, the widow of Badri Patarkatsishvili, a personal assistant of Muammar Qaddafi who managed to somehow escape from Libya, from Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s accountant, and from countless relatives of African government officials whose names no one has ever heard of but who are victims of oppression in their war-torn countries.

Here’s an email supposedly sent by the widow of Georgian millionaire Patarkatsishvili:

From: “Mrs. Olga Patarkatsishvili”
Subject: Re: Greetings From Mrs. Olga PatarkatsishviliGreetings from Georgia,

Greetings in the name of the lord, I am Mrs. Olga Patarkatsishvili, the widow of late Georgian business tycoon Mr. Badri Patarkatsishvili, I have a business proposal which will be of great benefit for you and myself. I will send you further details once I receive your response back. Please for security reason, I will strongly recommend that you write me through my private email account only.

I can be reach on this Email: (, for more information’s on this project.

Thanks for your understanding.

Yours truly,
Mrs. Olga Patarkatsishvili.


The mysterious box full of cash

In addition to the countries where government officials suffer through no fault of their own and are at the mercy of oligarchs, there are also countries torn apart by war. It seems Nigerian scammers think war-torn countries provide an ideal setting for intriguing stories told in emails from soldiers.

“I am a US soldier. During military operations in Iraq [or Afghanistan], I found a box full of money. I intend to keep it for myself, but I do need to transfer the cash to a reliable place. I have chosen you for this purpose. Please let me send the box to you, and once my tour is over, I will come to get the box. I’ll give you half of the money for your troubles.”

In some letters, the “soldiers” hint that the money could have been Osama bin Laden’s. One such letter claims his estate was $12.5 million. How all of that fit into one tiny metal box will forever remain a mystery.

The compensation

And finally, a devious scheme aimed at would-be freeloaders:

From: *****@**********It has reached the office of the Federal Govt of Nigeria that you were scammed before so the Govt has decided to compensate you with the sum of $70,000.00,

Contact Barrister Etters and pay a fee of just $80 for funds release .
Send email to *****@***********


There are both longer, more detailed boilerplates for these types of emails as well as the brief ones, as in the example above. They all promise compensation for the unlucky victims of scam and fraud. The recipient of the email is supposed to quickly get the hint that no one is going to check to make sure this is legit, and he’ll be raking in the cash thanks to a simple government error.

But it’s all fair play. Want to get compensation without actually having fallen victim to a scam? You won’t get money, and you’ll end up becoming a victim of fraud.

Oh, the people you’ll meet!

As we mentioned above, Nigerian scam emails don’t all originate in Nigeria and now come from countries all around the world. The authors of these emails typically write in English or French, and online translation sites help them translate their literary masterpieces into any language, including Russian. The scammers can also use machine translation sites to read any responses they may receive from their potential victims.

One email from “the daughter of a major political figure” from the Ivory Coast arrived in our inbox in the artificial language of Esperanto. A quick search for the name Rosina Jillian Tagro showed that the baroness also sends letters in Polish. We can only guess where the author is really from.

Sometimes letters are simply addressed “Dear Friend,” in the hope that the recipient will fall for it, reply, and the scammer will be able to harvest the victim’s first and last names from the reply email.

As we saw above, scammers often know the first and last name of the recipient. Unfortunately, it is not particularly difficult to gain access to databases of names and addresses. If you have ever received spam, it means that your information is in at least one such database, which in turn means you may also become a target for Nigerian scammers.

Even if an email uses the recipient’s name, oddities resulting from cultural ignorance do sometimes occur. For example, a recipient entered in a database as Petrova Olga may receive a curiously composed email that starts: “Dear Mr. Olga! Someone who shares the same name as yours, Mr. John Olga, has passed away.” Russian names are a complicated thing. But this doesn’t discourage the scammers — 99 recipients of this type of email may read it, laugh, and forget all about it, but the gullible one hundredth recipient might just take the bait.

Don’t believe your eyes

If you receive an email promising you millions from an inheritance, as a gift, or as a reward for acting as an intermediary in cashing bank funds or taking money out a country suffering from unrest, think long and hard before sending any replies. These emails are sent by scammers only!

Don’t get over-excited, even if it seems like a wealthy widow, the beautiful daughter of a murdered oil tycoon or the staff of a major political figure might be writing to you personally and addressing you by name: the scammers know where and how to get their hands on databases filled with names and addresses.

If the authors of the emails send scanned copies of documents as evidence of their honesty and the existence of their millions, don’t be too quick to take them for scans of actual documents. Malicious users typically have no problems falsifying documents. It’s easy to make a fake document — scan a passport, a bank statement, legal statement, or a photograph of a pastor surrounded by his parish, and use Photoshop or another photo editor to apply some basic changes to the images.

The safest choice of all is to avoid opening emails from unknown senders. If you still want to see what kinds of tales the “Nigerians” have for you and have a laugh at the expense of machine translation, then no harm done. And send your Nigerian scam letters to Kaspersky Lab — it will help us protect other users against scam attempts.

Your Nigerian inheritance is waiting!

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  1. Alex Jefferson

    PHONE: +229 99914660

    Good Day,
    My name is Ms. Sofia Hassan director auditing and accounting department” UBA bank Here in Cotonou, Benin Republic .I discovered the sum of Five million, three hundred thousand dollars (US$5.3M) belonging to a deceased customer of UBA bank Mr. Andreas Schranner a German who worked at Mount Resources Ltd, a geologist by profession who died in AF4590 crash since 2000 along side with his entire family (wife Maria, their daughter Andrea Eich, Christian, and their children Katharina 8, and Maximilian 10. Please log on here to see for your self, the fund has been lying in a suspense account without anybody coming to put claim over the money since His death.

    Therefore, I am soliciting for your assistance to come forward as the next of kin While I will back you up with every vital Information that you might need to stand as the real next of kin. I have agreed that 40% of this money will be for you as the beneficiary respect of the provision of your account and service rendered, 60% will be for me. Then immediately the money transferred to your account from this bank, I will proceed to your country for the sharing of the fund.

    should you be intereted in handling this transaction with me kindly get back to me with the following information:

    1)Full Name:
    7)Marital status:

    Contact me if you are ready to do this deal. (

    Yours faithful,
    Ms. Sofia Hassan

  2. Richard Saxton

    I’m ready

  3. Thomas Hay

    l met a woman on mate 1 she has scammed me out of 150,000$ it has been one tragic event from another her inheritance is an astounding 450,000,000 $ but as she was on her way to meet me she was stopped at customs and was charged with money laundering so now she needs 10,000 U.S to get out of jail she also had a lawyer send me bad checks and almost ruined my reputation at the bank l am now 50,000$ in debt l had to take a loan out to cover my debts not once has she came through with her promises l was looking for love not money and l told her that several times but she went on about it l tried to end the relationship if you want to call it that but she is so persistent at what she does l can’t seem to get rid of her she gave me the name of her inheritance company but no registered number to see if she is telling the truth so l have learn’t a valuable lesson one l am sure will cause me pain in the years to come god help all of the people who have been hurt by these evil people for they have no soul money is there god.

    1. GENO

      I have o e doing the almost same to me as of now. I have not GI end her any money and she promises to show me documents and then fly to me after she settles the Inheritance in Africa. She claims to be Benedicta Hayford of Ohio . did she send any pictures ? If so would you share them with me??

  4. Islam Shama

    i found this mail in my junk e.mail, and i decided to go on for some laughs. honestly they are very smart and creative in how to convince you with what they have. i have several replies if you want.
    Hello dear,

    I hope this message would meet you in good faith

    I humbly write to solicit for your partnership and assistance in the transfer and investment of my inheritance funds from my late father. I am Ms.Faraa Mensah, am only child of my late parents. I decided to contact you for this offer that is based on trust and your outstanding.

    It was very evident that my father was poisoned to death. In my culture, when a man dies, if he does not have a male child, the brother takes his property leaving the wife and the daughters empty handed. This is the exact case with me as I am the only daughter, I lost my mother when I was barely a year old and my father refused to re-marry despite all persuasion by friends and relatives, because he felt solely responsible for my mother’s death, as he only concentrated on his business that he rarely pays attention to family affairs, He ensured that I will had everything that I wanted. It was as a result that he made me the next of kin to his fund deposit with the bank and stated that in the event of any eventuality, I should have a direct access to the funds only when I am 25 years otherwise, I should have a guardian to intercede on my behalf for the release of the funds to me for investments purpose.

    Unlucky he passes away and I wanted to transfers the fund to over sea for investments purpose due to my current situation here. Please if you are interested in this offer kindly give me your full assurance; I decided to contact you hoping that you will find this interesting to assist me. This is 100% legal and risk free hence you make up your mind to follow the instruction to secure the fund into your account, on your confirmation of this message indicate your interest, I have made up my mind to offer you 20% for your kind effort out of the total fund after the successful transferred into your bank account, and the rest will invest in profitable business by you, while I continue my studies. Endeavor to let me know your decision.
    Best regard
    Ms.Faraa Mensah


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