The internet has become a breeding ground for scams of all shapes and sizes, but perhaps none more popular (and thus more easily recognizable) than the email rouse of a long lost relative, government official, or bank employee holed up in Nigeria and needing your help in securing a large sum of money. There's really no need to go on because you've undoubtedly received variations of this scam in your inbox countless times and, well, it never works. Or does it?
Not only does the old Nigerian bit still lure victims, the scam claimed its biggest known payday to date thanks to Janella Spears who forked over a mind boggling $400,000. Despite the big payout, Spears still contends she isn't easily duped. After all, she works as a registered nurse, teaches CPR, is a reverend who has married many couples, and also learned sign language to communicate with her hearing impaired husband. So what possible spin could this common scam have come with that got a seemingly intelligent woman to take the bait? Nothing more than the mention of a grandfather.
The email promised $20 million to Spears, money which was supposedly left behind by her grandfather whom she and the rest of her family had lost contact with over the years. She states "So that's what got me to believe it."
Fair enough, if we're being generous, but consider that the scam started off by asking for $100, which Spears promptly paid. Following inevitable problems, Spears was again asked to send money, this time to the tune of $8,300. She paid again and the number kept escalating. During the course of it all, she would receive fake letters purporting to be from the President of Nigeria, FBI Director Mueller, and even President Bush, all of which warned the $20 million (which later jumped to $26 million) could fall into terrorist hands if she didn't keep sending money.
This all went on for two years, and in that time, her friends, family, and law enforcement officials tried to get her to stop. But instead of cutting her losses, Spears eventually cleared out her husband's retirement account, mortgaged the house, and took out a lien on her car.
So where does the $400,000 in payments rank on email scam scale? An undercover investigator who worked on the case described it as the worst example of the scam he's ever seen. We believe him.
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