Consumers Fall For 'Nigerian Scam'
By Wayne Havrelly
April 4th, 2006
It's one of the most common Internet scams around, but innocent people keep falling for it -- including some of our viewers.
The so-called "Nigerian Scam" has struck again, this time in Arlington.
Mark Bair has plenty of time to play with his dog at his Arlington home these days -- more than he'd like, since he's unemployed and looking for work.
When he's not relaxing with his dog, he surfs the Internet, looking for a job.
He wasn't looking for an offer to share more than $3 million, but he found one recently in an e-mail from a lawyer in Nigeria.
"It's three million plus dollars, anybody'd be happy, plus I'm an unemployed guy, looking for an office job, y'know?" he said.
So he carefully studied the e-mail. The Nigerian lawyer said a client of his named Raymond Bair had been killed in an explosion in Nigeria, leaving millions of unclaimed dollars. He even included a BBC article about the explosion. He offered to make Mark Bair, Raymond Bair's legal heir, in exchange for a share of the money.
"My last name is fairly rare, it's not that common, it's not a Johnson or a Smith, it wasn't very common, so I'm thinking, 'maybe there's some validity to this.'"
So he e-mailed back, asking for more information.
"Skeptical about the whole thing, doesn't seem right, but I'm going to bite a little bit, see where it goes."
Bair's "bite" led to more e-mails and a phone call from the Nigerian, asking Bair to fly to Nigeria to sign the papers. The lawyer would even pay for the flight, if only Bair would give him his bank account number so he could wire the money.
Now Bair was getting excited.
"I've got two young children and I want to get married and I have a future and this could have changed my life."
But Laura, his fiancé, smelled a rat. She plugged the Nigerian's name into a search engine and found plenty of victims of identity theft identifying him as the culprit.
Bair credits his fiancé with saving him from financial disaster.
"Had I given him my bank account number, he would have had access to my bank account and could have taken everything that I have."
Bair called KIRO 7 Consumer Investigators because he fears others may not be so fortunate.
"As long as he changes the name and he continues to send that e-mail, somebody's going to fall for this scam, somebody probably already has."