In all, Patricia says she sent the stranger in Nigeria $50,000.
When communication abruptly stopped, Patricia says she went online and did a search for the bank that she wired money to. Instead of finding an address, her search results revealed that she had fallen victim to a common scam. "I just froze," she says.
Years later, Patricia says she's still being targeted by scam artists. "They will go after every last dollar you have," Brian tells her.
Now, there's a new con out there that targets people just like Patricia, Brian says. Con men are sending out letters that appear to be from an official government bureau in Nigeria that's been set up to compensate scam victims and make amends for past scams. "[They say], 'Just send us $4,000, and we'll send you a million dollars because we want to make our victims whole again,'" he says. "They know these people are gullible, and again and again the people will send off the $4,000 to get the million."
Brian says any time someone needs money to send you money or mails you an unsolicited check, you should be suspicious. Most times, these counterfeit checks look so real—thanks to high-tech computer graphics—even banks will cash them.