When Oprah Show producers began investigating financial fraud, they received e-mails from people like Patricia, who fell victim to the same kind of scams that Brian uncovered.
Patricia was working at an ad agency when she responded to a fax. It was a desperate plea for help from a wealthy Nigerian businessman. "He had supposedly been in a logging truck accident, and needed to the United States for some reconstructive surgery," Patricia says.
The man told her that before he could travel, he needed the use of someone's bank account to transfer funds from Nigeria to the United States. Patricia called Nigeria and was told that in exchange for her help, she would be financially rewarded. "Part of me was willing to sacrifice some of my money for the opportunity to perhaps doubling it, maybe even tripling it," she says.
The story also appealed to Patricia's compassionate side. "He sounded so sincere, so desperate for help," she says. "[He said] he was in great pain."
Once Patricia agreed to help, the man asked her to wire him $10,000 to cover his international banking fees. She sent it, but the requests for money continued. Before she knew it, she had emptied her checking account and maxed out all her credit cards.