Wednesday, 27 August 2008 - 2:41pm |
National News

Romantic Nigerian scammers at work

1 min read

New Zealanders, especially those using online internet dating agencies, are being reminded to be more careful about sending money to Nigeria and disclosing personal bank details, as Nigerian scammers are fleecing money.

Detective Senior Sergeant Darrin Thomson, Wellington Police Metro Crime Unit, says Nigerian scammers are targeting online dating agencies. "They identify lonely, vulnerable people and then request money from them with false promises of marriage, or the release of vast sums of money at a later date."

He said a Porirua woman 'met' one of the 'scammers' on a dating site. He told her that he was a widower, and employed by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in Lagos.

Detective Senior Sergeant Thomson said the man used two types of scams to extort $10,000 from her. In one scam he emailed her a business letter identifying US$200,000 he had deposited in a US bank account. He stated that he needed a UK bank account in order to release his US funds. The woman paid $3000 to open an account in London, transferring the funds to Nigeria.

She was then told that the man's daughter was ill and he urgently needed money to pay for medical fees. More money was transferred to Nigeria.

Detective Senior Sergeant Thomson said police believe the same scammer is responsible for extorting almost $70,000 from an Auckland woman - using a similar story.

"An internet search shows many women have lost out to these romantic Nigerian scammers," Detective Senior Sergeant Thomson said.

Australian figures show Nigerian scammers defraud A$36 million a year from Australian internet users. Queensland Police contacted 139 people who sent money to Nigeria - 135 were victims of fraud.

"We believe the New Zealand situation is similar to the Australian finding," Detective Senior Sergeant Thomson said. "Anybody being asked to send money to Nigeria should be very, very wary."

Internet safety advice is on the police website:

Ends. Tel: DSS Thomson, 04 496 3514