Fake inheritance Nigerian scam now spreading via Telegram

A cyber security company reported the details of a fraud attempt that began with a message through Telegram from an unknown number. This is the well-known Nigerian scam. A scheme that was very popular several years ago in which criminals send mass emails telling the story of a very important person who had a terminal illness and was looking for an heir to leave his fortune. The story may vary in detail, but the scenario proposed by criminals is almost always the same.

In this case, the potential victim was contacted via Telegram from a number beginning with the prefix +229. According to the international area code, it corresponds to Benin. A country located in West Africa. The message claimed to be from a woman, owner of a company in France, who claimed to be sick with cancer and who was interested in leaving an inheritance of 400,000 euros to a person willing to help her donate that money to charitable causes.

In addition, to make people believe that it was something legitimate, the scammers sent images and made a video call that lasted a few seconds where they showed the supposed sick person.

In the message, the criminals share the lawyer’s phone number so that, if they accept the money, they can contact each other via WhatsApp and coordinate its delivery.

Although the person who received the message quickly realized that it was a scam—basically because it is impossible for a stranger to want to transfer 400,000 euros to our account—he decided to play along with the criminals and asked what the steps were.

After exchanging a few messages with the supposed lawyer to coordinate the details of the transfer, they sent him a form with the information they needed to be able to deliver the money.In this case, the person contacted by the scammers decided not to proceed. But if he had, what usually happens is that in a second instance, —and after gaining the victim’s trust— the scammers ask the victims to pay some taxes to be able to make the transfer and thus the money for the inheritance money to  come to the account. However, none of this is true. The scammers manage to keep the money and the victims receive nothing.

Nigerian scam: a modality that returned

While many will believe that it is almost impossible for someone to fall for this scam, in July 2022 the National Police and INTERPOL broke up a criminal organization that carried out the Nigerian scam internationally.

The authorities arrested 80 people involved in the criminal organization and seized more than 500,000 dollars and 30,000 euros. Apparently, they managed to defraud more than a thousand victims, mainly older adults. As if that were not enough, in April of this year INTERPOL dismantled another South African criminal gang that apparently had links with Black Ax, an international criminal organization that is dedicated, among other things, to online fraud.