In 2012, identity thieves plundered over $20 billion from 12 million in the United States alone. According to a study from Javelin Strategy, this was a rise of over a million victims from 2011.
One of the most common frauds is called the "419" scam. Most have seen some variation on this trick. An individual claims to need help in transferring a large amount of money from Nigeria to the United States. For some reason, they usually need the help of an elderly American with limited funds. All the victim is told to do is to wire money to Nigeria until they either run out or conclude they have been scammed.
Scam Alert Central has been publicizing the latest twist on the 419 scam. In previous years, the victim was told that they were dealing with some member of the non existent Nigerian royal family. Now they have started stealing pictures of attractive young women, sometimes even adult film stars, to add to the pitch. They pose as refugees, potential girlfriends, or even escorts who claim they need to be paid through a "booking agent" in the Philippines. Although some claim to be in Nigeria, others identify any number of countries as a point of origin.
Scam Alert Central updates regularly on the names and backstories of the women featured on the pitches.
It is important to know that the pictures have been stolen from social media. The women pictured are almost never in on the scam.
This is the latest version of an old fraud scheme. The FBI has identified a large number of schemes, listed and described here. It is a good idea to occasionally reread the most current information on scams as the criminals update their tactics to get your money.