As Africa gears up to play light-hearted hoaxes on April Fools Day, we'll be looking at the more malicious phenomenon of scams. Why do we allow ourselves to be duped?
A scam is pre-meditated scheme for cheating people out of money, with one of the most famous being the Nigerian 419 email advance fee fraud. Hundreds of people have fallen for these 419er scams.
Other scams include the selling of fake dollars and miracle cures.
Why do we fall for scams? Have you been at the receiving end of a scam? Tell us your favourite scam stories.
This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.
Most scams happens and people never knew it is a scam. People tip-toed and will raise their head after making a hit. I have never been a victim but I almost became one. I met a lady on the internet from Russia, she claims. The way she wrote her letter was a little weird, but I wasn't surprised because of where she was from. Words were all over, English wasn't that good, she can start a sentence on one paragragh and finish it on the other. It was hard to read. The next letter was a much different, it was well punctuated, the English was very fluent and I couldn't tell it was written by a Russian.
The third letter was well written but now there was some financial requests and I decided to call it quits. I'm still not sure if I was talking to a real lady even though she send me pictures.
Tsano Chilata, Toronto, Canada
Two persons need fast money and one turns out to be a victim. Fast things can end up giving you regrets.
Oluka Sunday Abbey, Eleme, Nigeria
Many Westerners think its only Nigerians that are synonymous with scams but they are dead wrong. A family member of mine had an experience in America.She was a businesswoman who had ordered some goods from a supposed businessman.She had paid for the goods, only for her to go back the next day and the shop had vanished.
Kay, Nigerian in USA
I am a scammer, I defraud people and make ends meet from it. I don't like this business, but what will I do since I don't have any work. Nobody seems to be helpful. I hate this business but what will I do if I stop doing it?
Ascot Larry, Nigerian in Abidjan.
I Live in the UK, I get tonnes of email messages telling me I have won some outrageous amount of money in a lottery I can't remember getting into. An opportunist would furnish these guys with some personal information, but one who isn't would tell them to get lost
Larry Akpan, Bradford, UK
Those who fall for scams are very greedy people because they want to reap where they did not sow. For instance, how can a reasonable person agree to pay a commission to transfer monies belonging to a government agency?
Ahamefula Ken Mbaeri, Lagos, Nigeria.
Greed is the one and only reason for falling for scams. Why would anyone tell you to bring $5000 dollars and get $500,000 effortlessly without smelling a rat? It is all about pure greed.
Olugboyega Oladipo, Houston, USA
I had quite a lot of fun with one scammer whom I contacted from a temporary email address set up just for this. I read somewhere that to waste their time and resources was a great way to make this less profitable for them. So I sent regular notes back and received regular communications and instructions. Finally, I got a nice scan of a bearer bond that showed what it was that I was vying for; 158 million US dollars in gold left behind by some poor, departed US soul. All I had to do was to send $18,000 to get the ball rolling. I have hung it in my office as a nice keepsake.
The only reason why we fall for scams is because we are human. The creator made us naive, gullible, trusting, greedy and this is one phenomenon we will never be able to explain.
Joel Chiutsi, Keswick, Canada
Most Africans including Westerners do fall for scams due to nothing else other than GREED and looking for the shortest route out!
Valabam, New Jersey, USA
Why is it that when there is fraud Nigeria is the first country to be mentioned? Yet we have Filipinos, Malaysians and other Africans doing the same? We were taught these tricks by the so-called Westerners and you know they became masters of the game. Please stop associating Nigerians with all this damaging image, other parts of the world play a role as well.
Olu Onabanjo, London, UK
People fall for scams because they are really stupid, not just greedy but below average intelligence. If something is too good to be true, it is.
Jim, York, UK
I am continually inundated with these emails, anyone who thinks they are genuine is either very foolish, greedy or both. Why do I say this? Just ask yourself how many people you have ever encountered or even heard of that give away millions of Dollars to total strangers. Use your brain and think, don't be greedy.
Bert Washington, London, England
A woman who claimed she found me on the internet pushed me deep to love. She later on looked for alternative ways of me going to the US to meet her. I had no immediate plans of going to the US, but she also continued to push, saying that if only I love her then I must come and we stay together. She finally introduced me to a program called West African Refugee and Humanitarian Authority or something like that. She had coached me on all the ways of going to the US through this program. We were supposed to be a group of 10 and sent in an application and she will mediate on my behalf. An amount ranging from $1500 to $3000 were paid by each applicant depending on whether you have a passport or not. She claimed she had to pay for all expenses for me and any one of my best friends. We kept on paying money until we felt it was too much then the communication between me and her stopped. I was pushed so much by friends who anxious to travel to US.
Every sensible person should think first before jumping into the trap of scammers. Today I got a call from a stranger claiming he's just flown in from London and has a parcel for me. He therefore wanted me to go over to pick it. When I asked for the names of the person who had sent him, he mentioned names unknown to me. When I said I wasn't expecting a parcel from London, he promised to call back and I know for sure he won't. Its only now that I realise it was a scam because I've just heard that people who fall for this scam end up being robbed once they go over to meet these "messengers". Everyone should know that free things can turn out to be the most expensive. Stay warned.
Sophia Malinga, Kampala, Uganda
The 419 merchants are forever emailing me. I will never, ever, accede to their demands for my credit card number. Why are the police not rounding up these dumb fools?
Sean O'Brien, Leeds, UK
Greed, nothing else. Why should I get excited with money I did not even enter a competition for? Recently, there have been lots of such things in my mail box. This includes people whose fathers died and left an inheritance that they can only claim with my assistance. For God's sake, why these people would want a person they do not know to have a share of their father's hard-earned cash, I do not know. Come on people, work for your money!
Yvonne Mmangisa, Hanover, Germany
Why do we fall for scams? Simple. Man's innate greed! Wanting something for nothing.
Layi Egbeyemi, London, UK
Like the Middle East, oil-rich Nigeria has a reputation in certain Western circles as a place where huge fortunes can be made very rapidly - and usually via corrupt means. This is why despite routine warnings by Nigerian and Western governments and law enforcement agencies, thousands of Westerners continue to fall victim to 419 scams every year. Many of the victims believe that Nigeria is a country where anything is literally possible as long as you can bribe your way through. Accordingly, they have little difficulty in believing the fables of stupendous fortunes abandoned in secret vaults by former Nigerian dictators which are available if only you can make available your bank account details and your passport and also hand over several thousand dollars in 'facilitation' fees to the scammers. The victims believe the scams will work because in the 1970s and '80s, crooked Western companies and businessmen connived with Nigeria's generals and politicians to rob the country blind and stash the money overseas. Little wonder that most Nigerians have very little sympathy for today's western victims of 419. Its widely seen as a form of reparations.
Ndubisi Obiorah, Lagos, Nigeria
We fall for scams because it's human nature to believe the best about people. I almost fell for a scam where I was promised a free trip to New York and Senegal for an International Youth conference provided I "booked" a hotel room in Senegal by depositing 400 euro in some account. The light bulbs went on when I did not find any such hotel or organisation on the internet. Some have probably fallen for this one.
Templeman, Harare, Zimbabwe
The answer is simple: we're, by nature, greedy. This is regardless of race, colour, social or economic status. We're more apt to opt for easy money because genuine wealth comes from hard work, which most of us are loath to. As a denizen of many years in Lagos, the epicentre of the 419 scam industry, I've developed a certain attitude that makes it impossible to be conned.
Abdulai Musa, Lagos, Nigeria
We fall for scams because we are also scam. Because of the many hours I spend on the PC, I ended up with a pop up that told me that I had won a free cruise to the Bahamas and that I was to receive the sum of $1,600 as free shopping bonanza. I spent so many hours talking to this travel agency in Florida, but they told me that in order for me to get the cash money, I had to submit my credit card number so that they use it to transmit the funds into my Zambian account. This went on and on until I had to write to US officials, who were so helpful in discovering for me that this travel agency was insolvent. I spoke to half of Florida in quest for money and adventure, but this ended up as a wild goose chase. If I wasn't scam, I would have noticed that this pop up was too good to be true. I learnt a very big lesson of my life and from then on, I do not entertain such news alerts.
My mail box is full of messages from the Green Card USA inviting me to go live and work in America, but how true is this after what those folks in Florida did to me? Once bitten, twice shy.
Shuttie Libuta, Kitwe, Zambia
It's easy to become a victim of a scam if you are either greedy or want an easy way out of a financial problem.
Joe Abey, Cameroonian/Chicago
Those who live by the adage "not all that glitters is gold" and "look before you leap" will never fall prey to scammers. Victims of scammers are greedy people who want to reap where they did not sow, people who believe the silliest, most unacceptable, funniest, fantasyland and dreamland easy money-making tales.
Anthony Okosun, Baltimore, USA.
Those who have been cheated by scammers have no capacity to think beyond their faces. They must think deep.
Duop Chak, Colorado, USA