Nigerian Scams Still Costing Australia $5 Million Every Month

Nigerian Scams Still Costing Australia $5 Million Every Month

Experienced email users often treat “Nigerian scam emails” as a brief source of comedy amidst the horrors of trying to achieve inbox zero. But they’re far from a minor problem: according to law enforcement officials, Scammers still routinely receive at least $5 million every month from gullible Australians every month.

Australian money picture from Shutterstock

Queensland Police Service superintendent Brian Hay quoted those numbers at the media launch of a survey into the habits of older Australians online. “These insidious evil bastards overseas continue to target our seniors and our communities,” he said “There are between 1500 and 2000 people sending between $5 million and $7 million every month to Nigeria and Ghana.” The total figure, covering every other country with scams operative, would be much higher.

The McAfee-sponsored survey, which covered 500 active online users, found that one in five Australians over fifty had been the victims of online fraud. While Nigerian scams aren’t aimed exclusively at older citizens, their combination of actual wealth (scamming teenagers brings minimal financial results) and social isolation makes them likely victims. “The seniors in our communities are over-represented significantly [in these scams],” Hay said. One recent case had seen a victim transfer more than $1 million. Hay suspects the one in five is low: “Cybercrime is one of the least-reported crimes in the world.”

While we often perceive Nigerian scams as involving dubious-sounding offers to transfer large sums of money, the most common model typically involves trying to establish a fake long-distance relationship. “Over 90 per cent of it is romance related,” Hay said. “Their trusting nature and their desire for companionship is being abused every single day.” (We’ve offered specific advice from Hay before on how to avoid being caught in love crime honey traps, and that’s definitely worth checking out.)

Even when victims are contacted by police and told that they are being defrauded, more than three-quarters continue to hand over money, Hay said. “You might think a phone call from an ugly-headed copper like me would be enough to stop them, but it isn’t.” Often at that stage, the “relationship” has been running for months, with the scammer sending 10 to 20 messages every single day. “Who are they going to believe — the bloke who wants to smash their dream apart?” Hay said.

In a secure workplace environment where obvious spam such as this is filtered out before users ever see it, it’s easy to be complacent. But how would you feel if you discovered your grandfather had given hundreds of thousands of dollars to a scammer? Make use of your superior knowledge; consider volunteering to offer security classes at a local community centre or aged care facility.


  • The Schemes I have been involved with “unwinding” have come from Romania and Asia.
    Not all Nigerian Scams are actually from Nigeria. We have just gotten used to calling them that.

    The boiler room type scams where confidence is built up of share trading can screw people silly. There are usually several levels where different scammers coming back and back to them saying they can get the money back from the original sting….. just send us $ 20,000 and “we can roll over the previous share parcel into a S47087 -9809A share script for script debt equity swap and get you a minimum 179.5% return of capital” in a 7 day period ( read – forever )

    Some of these are based out of the US stock system too. Just try and sell shares held in the US from Australia and watch the barriers put in front of you.

    One scammer had the balls to turn up to a shareholder meeting in Australia to hand over share certificates. ( also chasing more money ) you should have seen the look on his face when I pipped up from the meeting asking to verify his passport as the ASIC / ASX would be interested in overseas so called “professional” seeking to raise funds in Aust with out appropriate licences.

    Never seen a guy close down a meeting so fast and go white. I should have organised Fed police to turn up when I knew the meeting would be held

    This guy built confidence in his victims as in his brochures etc he had photos of himself with important people. Use google maps to track down his “office address” and it looked good. Keep going and track down his residential address as listed for the American Stock exchange and … oh what to do you know “abandoned house”

    • If you had so much on him and knew it was solid evidence, why didn’t you get the cops onto him then? He is probably out scamming others right now and you could have prevented that.

  • Call random Nigerian phone numbers saying that you’re an Australian prince and have been captured by New Zealander pirates. They are demanding a $10,000 ransom and when you are let free you will be able to pay them back $60m.

  • Just found out today about the Paypal scam when selling your car on car sales sites. You get an email telling you the car purchase will be made via Paypal and the vehicle will be picked up via an agent. Scammer will deposit extra into the account and request you pay the extra to their shipping agent for pickup via western union. You pay, Paypal freezes then reverses the money and you are left short of the money you transferred. Never heard of it before today but it is rife.

  • There’s plenty of variants to the scam too. I remember I got one a while back which was classic Nigerian scam, but with Libya, former Gaddafi minister, etcs…

    Was temped to reply and say I wasn’t game but a Nigerian friend of mine might be interested…

  • Education’s the best defense here. I’m astonished that, given the publicity that surrounds these scams, the numbers of people fleeced by internet con men are not declining.

    I’ve spent some time with my elderly (and don’t tell him I called him that) father showing him how to examine header and source code for emails, showing him how the web address displayed on screen is nothing like the one the link will actually send him to and how the return address can be spoofed.

    Now when I come over to visit – he proudly shows me his quarantined emails folder and we shake our heads at the audacity of these people – then delete them. (The emails, not the people for those hanging participle hunters!)

    People are not necessarily stupid, but it is human nature to want to trust and believe. You know someone who may not know this – Call them up, go see them and pull the wool off their eyes.

  • Dunno about you guys, but i’ll be a millionaire soon!

    I was contacted by a Nigerian relative who had his money locked away due to some political coup and personally needed *my* help to get it out for him…. Imagine that… out of all the people, ME!

    So i agreed. I sent him all the documentation that he required (passport/birth cert/etc). Just a few hours ago, he came back, saying that it was all successful and i’ll have 50% of the proceeds as agreed to be deposited in my bank account soon. That’s $20m US dollars! *rubs hands with glee*.

    I was so excited that i had to tell everyone here, and also my future wife in Thailand, who only needs AU$20,000 to fix up her documentation so that she can live here with me — which of course i can easily provide! 🙂

    I also got a call from Windows the other day offering to fix my PC as it had viruses on it… I though, it’s only $150…. why not. Looks like everything is on the up and up for me. Happy times! <@:-)

    • Don’t Forget about the money you will be saving with your discount pharmaceuticals, plus how much your new wife will love the “bigger you”… just using this one weird trick that dentists hate.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!