Ken Paxton
Consumer Protection

Beware of Letters from Nigeria

I have recently become aware of a Nigerian scam letter in which the writer claims to know me and to have been a classmate of mine in college. This is, of course, completely false. It is a somewhat bizarre twist to a scam that is all too common. Don't fall for it.

For whatever reason, the country of Nigeria has for some years had the dubious distinction of being a world leader in Internet scams. I think it is safe to say that any letter, email, or call from a stranger in Nigeria is a dangerous fraud. You should hang up the phone, delete the email, and throw away the letter.

In some cases, the solicitation is a sad tale of political intrigue, assassination, and a national treasure needing to be deposited in your bank account. In other cases, you will be told that you are about to receive a huge inheritance from a relative you never heard of before. In still other cases, like the one that used my name, the writer will simply want to establish contact with you. Don't do it. I strongly recommend no contact whatsoever.

ABOUT CONSUMER ALERTS - The Office of the Attorney General accepts consumer complaints about businesses. When a pattern of complaints warrants intervention, the Attorney General can file a civil lawsuit under consumer protection statutes, sometimes with the result that a company is required to pay restitution to consumers -- see our Major Lawsuits page. However, when a consumer is swindled by a con artist, filing a complaint cannot help. Civil litigation can sometimes put a very unscrupulous business out of action, but often cannot produce restitution.

Individual con artists generally fall under the jurisdiction of a criminal prosecutor -- in Texas, this is the district or county attorney. But even when they are charged and convicted, these individuals usually have spent the money as fast as they have stolen it. A person who is the victim of fraud should report the incident to the police or sheriff. But by far the best thing is for consumers to be aware of fraud, so they are not swindled in the first place. For this reason, the Office of the Attorney General posts these Consumer Alerts about possible scams and schemes that come to our attention through citizen contacts to our office or other sources.