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Beware of possible ‘Nigerian*’ Online Advertising Fraud

Posted By Darren Rowse 5th of March 2008 Pro Blogging News 0 Comments

Tony Hung has a post that is worth keeping in mind if you are approached by someone wanting to place display or text advertising on your blog – it looks like Nigerian Email Scammers are targeting site owners with offers to buy advertising. They send them a check (a bad one) as payment that is for an amount higher than the agreed value of the deal and when they ask for a refund the site owner is left out of pocket. Tony has the full details.

* just an apology to our Nigerian friends, some of whom have been hurt by this post. I bounced this post off another blogger’s use of the term – I don’t believe that Tony did so with any racist intent (nor did I) but used it as a descriptive term that would mean something to many about the type of fraud described rather than who was behind it. As a result I’ve changed the title of this post to include ‘Nigerian’ in quotes which I hope helps some. I’ve written a little more in comments below. – Note, this changes the URL of this post.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • I have received a number of such scams but none were from nigerian, they simply ask you many question and said they were from some advertising companies and have a number of advertisers who are interested in my blog and would like to put buy an ad at $100, i was quite suspicious as it sound more like a mail that was sent to the mass crowd, so i questioned them back.

    The reply back was either a yes or no. I guess it was some bot and it should be in my spam mail instead. Be warned guys.

  • Those Nigerians come up with the weirdest stuff.

  • I guess the economy must really suck there.

    They have the brains apparently, but just use it for the wrong purposes.

  • I have collected over 5 million in fake cheques and money orders from these scammers. You can see some of the cheques I have received here –

    Snoskred made 5 Million Dollars Online

    This fraud is a major problem all over the world but particularly in the USA and Australia, because the laws in those countries means the bank has to make the funds available to customers within a very short time – 3-5 days in Australia. However these cheques make take up to a year to bounce.

    When you go to your bank and the teller says the funds will be available in 3 days or 5 days, that DOES NOT MEAN that the cheque has actually “cleared”.

    Also, if the cheque information is stolen from a person or a company it may take that person time to discover their information has been stolen – and then the bank can reverse the transaction, taking the money back!

    As you can see in the article I posted on my blog, some of the cheques were for huge amounts of money. Imagine being told by your bank that the funds were available and the cheque has cleared, only to be told many months later that wasn’t actually true.

    And guess what – unlike a credit card transaction where your bank will have your back when things go wrong, if you end up being out this kind of money your bank will demand that you pay it back.

    At least it is unlikely you will be arrested here in Australia for cheque fraud but that happens to a lot of people in the USA.

    The number one thing you can do to stop this fraud today is get the word out – tell people. Good on you Darren for posting about this – it WILL save people from being scammed. :)


  • Well, the solution would be to not accept payments through checks, Western Union etc. except from trusted sources (repeat business etc.). And always critically analyze any advertisement requests. If it’s sent out to multiple people, as Etienne said, red flashing lights should go off…

  • The problem is people from anywhere in the world are playing the “Scam” game and for some reason we “assume” things come from Nigeria.

    Time to get real. I know in the US and Europe people are doing real stupid stuff similar to what is termed the “419 Scam”.

    We should get the facts before steroetyping a whole nation.

    I’ve had a person pretending they wanted to place text link ads but they did not pay for it. They expected me to put up text links for free on an “AD FREE” site.

    That’s an obvious scam and waste of my time.

    Just stay clear of suspicious emails.

  • I feel both frustrated and sorry for Nigerians. They’re so poor that they have to resort to these type of scams.

    I agree with Nancy (above), in general, stay away from anything that looks suspicious or too good to be true e.g. the Prince of Nigeria wants to transfer $2 million dollars into your account for safe-keeping. :P

  • Thanks for the heads up..

    For the first time i have seen nigerian scammers scamming for text link ads!

  • Nigerian scammers are very clever!

  • They just never stop.

    Anytime someone unsolicited sends an email and it sounds fishy I hit the delete button. If anyone wants to advertise on my blog for $100 or $1000 right now, I know it’s too good to be true.

  • Sigh…

    Well, hopefully web publishers are a bit more savvy than your average internet user, but then again there are a lot of people desperate to make money off the Internet who might fall for a “tempting offer”.

    Another thing (which I happened to blog about today:, in relation to phishing attempts) is that most of these emails are written in sub-standard English (“The help speeed up to this process, please access the following link…”). One would hope that your average blogger has an ABOVE-average command of English and will spot a scam a mile off.

  • @ Nancy ….”The problem is people from anywhere in the world are playing the “Scam” game and for some reason we “assume” things come from Nigeria.

    Time to get real. I know in the US and Europe people are doing real stupid stuff similar to what is termed the “419 Scam”.

    We should get the facts before steroetyping a whole nation.”

    Thanks Nancy for sticking up for the truth. It has always been a case of calling pot ‘black’ and giving the ‘dog a bad name’ to hang it. Darren to the best of my ability cannot substantiate that the source of the request wass from Nigeria; hence it is wrong to write a post to insinuate thus.

    Nigerians are hard working people and have got their own share of scammers like any other country; but a situation whereby any internet scammer that has got to do with email is labelled Nigerian is not fair to a people.

    For beginners, the scam we are talking about today has its origin from Spain where it is know as the ‘Spanish Prisoners Letter’; no one has ever mentioned Spain on the same page with this scam, whilest Nigeria has been taking the bashing.

    As a responsible and hard working Nigerian that is active on the internet, it is disheartening to see someone I respect as Darren with such wide readership writing on such a controversial issue without cross-checking his source. The f-secure source never mentioned Nigeria.

    Deepjive ran with the f-secure post and here we are with Darren, this is most unfortunate.

    Nigeria deserves better!!!

  • Joe

    Wow, I thought that they were sticking to targeting people through their email campaigns and giving them checks for “a deceased rich person”. Looks like they’re trying to take advantage of the online advertising business now too….

  • Why would anyone make a refund without verifying funds. I never understood how or why people fall for these scams.

  • I wonder if that nice Prince who said I had $20,000,000 waiting in a bank account in a Swiss Account is the same one doing this… hmm… I never did get my $20,000,000!

    (end sarcasm)

  • That is a hassle. Just goes to show, paypal is the safe way to do it.

  • I get these via email all the time. I get messages that say “I would like to advertisement on your website” but they don’t specify which website. They offer a figure like $23437, but yeah right. Here’s a big tip-off: No mention of what they want advertised.

  • I wonder why when any type of scam pops up. Its always Nigerians.

    Mr which way, thank you from taking the words from my mouth.

    Not all Nigerians are bad.

  • Well Tony Lung posted a wrong info and if there was a cybercourt, I would gladly sue him. I wonder why you guys at problogger couldnt run a background check. (I respected you guys a lot).

    This is what F-secure said:

    “It’s a form of Advance fee fraud alias Nigerian 419 fraud.”

    They didnt say it was perpetrated by Nigerians. read the post well.

    I dont know why Tony would do this but its real bad.

  • While I won’t object to anything done to expose scams I strongly object to this type of stereotyping especially when facts are not available to back the erroneous claims.

    Unfortunately the world has been deceived into believing that online scams begin and end with Nigerians or 419. Nigeria and Nigerians are responsible for less than 10% of all scam schemes out there on the net with the US having over 50% of online scams attributed to it yet even people that cannot point to Africa let alone Nigeria on the map will easily jump into the bandwagon of name calling and racial profiling, what a shame.

  • I believe that most people have generally developed this bias for us Nigerians and have their mindset fixed to assuming that anything online fraud or 419 scam always originates from Nigeria.

    Here is the simple truth,i do believe that a couple of Nigerians maybe fraudulent but a good number of us have make a living from honest jobs.

  • Okay, let’s clear this up a second. Real quick like, in fact.

    The scam itself was NAMED as “Nigerian 419 Fraud” or “Nigerian Email Fraud”.

    Neither Darren’s post, or Tony’s post, is stating that it’s a fraud perpetrated by only Nigerians (or any other nationality for that matter).

    For example, the statement, “I hate Chinese food.” doesn’t mean that I hate the food because it’s made by Chinese people. It refers to the type of food, the name of the food.

    If I were to say, “Italian leather is terrible.” That doesn’t mean that I hate Italians because of their leather.

    If I said, “German Shepherds are a horrible breed of dog.” I don’t mean to say that Germans are horrible people.

    Get it? It’s only about the name of the scam (which incidentally, originated in Nigeria, and has been acknowledged by the Central Bank of Nigeria as having originated there: – Go give it a good read, because there’s your proof that it all began in Nigeria.) and not a racist/hate statement by either Darren or Tony about the nationality of the people who happen to be native to that country.

    Do a search in Google for “email scams” – no nationality included in that search, right? 3 out of the first 10 results show “Nigerian”.

    Don’t pin this on Darren or Tony. They didn’t name the type of scam, they only report on it’s evolution. And as Tony said, yes, to be politically correct, the scam shouldn’t be named after a group of people, but in this case, I don’t feel it has been. It’s been named after the country from where it all began. You’d all realize this if you took the time to read up on it. No one, not Darren, Tony, or even whoever it was that first “named” the scam, is associating it with a nation of people. Just the nation where it all started.

  • @ Lara, I wonder where you are coming from, I bet your association with Darren as explicitly stated on your site makes you an interested party in this.

    However, I will point it out to you that you did not even take time to read through you referenced site (snopes); if you had you would have read about the origin. Meanwhile, as at the times and years being quoted in snopes, internet access have not reached the crescendo it has now; to warrant the poliferation of the scam in Nigeria.

    Talking about being explicit or not with reference to Nigeria as the origin; I still stand by my charge against Deep Interest that there were insinuations in the write up and the picture speaks volumes.

    As regards google and searches, you baffle me with that arguement. Where does google aggregate it’s result from? It is from sites like Deep Interest and Problogger that have posted inaccurate information on their sites. Google has no choice but to feed you with what it finds, that does not authenticate the veracity of any claims on such pages (search).

    Get it right, It did not start from Nigeria. Just like any other thing that history and the rest of the world have re-written to point to it’s origin in Africa.

    For the benefit of doubts, it was Nancy that first raised the ‘stereotype issue’ and not me. I think she was genuinely concerned and unbiased unlike Lara; who to the best of my ability that have vested interest.

    I am concerned about the systematic destruction a people’s character through this kind of stereotypic assumption, that is why i contend.

  • Time to move on to other topics methinks.

  • @ lara

    chinese food, german sherpherd, nigerian scam

    how does that array sound to you. Great right?

    I guess thats why they want to rename ponzi schemes to american pyramid schemes or commonly found trojans to ukrainian trojans or phishing to british phishing.

    The fact that a nation cant compete against the media of other nations does not mean her people are entirely rogues.

  • The most shocking thing to me about this fraud is that there are people out there who still write checks and people who still accept them!! Don’t accept checks. Period.

  • @Drixie – Let them. Let them rename whatever they want to whatever they want. I could care less, to be honest, because I’m not the one who perpetrated the crime. I could seriously still sleep at night as a proud American, had they named it the American email scam.

    “The fact that a nation cant compete against the media of other nations does not mean her people are entirely rogues.”

    I COULDN’T AGREE MORE! But neither Darren or Tony have said that they were.

    There are far more serious issues out there in the world that are being attributed to people of a nation than an email scam.

    @WWN – There’s no question that I am a friend of Darren’s, or that I do work with/for him. I’m completely transparent about that, so your accusation that it has something to do with what I’ve said here is because of that is useless.

    There’s also no question that I would stand up for him, Tony (whom I don’t know nearly as well), or anyone else who is simply reporting information for the greater good, and find themselves under attack and accusation for something beyond their control.

    The bottom line? I can totally understand that it’s a sensitive issue. I can understand why a Nigerian person might be offended. I said might, because upon my own personal 5 minutes (admittedly) of research, I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t Darren or Tony who named the scam. Go yell at the Central Bank of Nigeria or the British government for naming it what they did. Go yell at the people (the specific people) in Nigeria who first started it. I stand by my first statement, that the name of the scam has nothing to do with the people of Nigeria as a whole, but rather the country from where the scam originated.

    That said, I tend to agree with Jeremy… it’s time to move on to other topics, because:

    1. Darren’s not available to make his own statements about his own post on his own blog, and my statements should NOT reflect his feelings. He may come back and say something completely different, or he may agree. His opinions are his, and mine are mine, just like yours are yours, and we ALL have a right to hold them.

    And 2. This site’s not about racial/international injustices. If you want to fight for that cause, go for it, but you should choose the proper venue.

  • I’m not fighting racial/international justices here.

    The point is Tony made a mistake while he was reporting information.

    Darren also made a mistake by relaying the information that tony reported without cross-checking in the original source.

    And the end result is that a whole nation has been unjustly blamed for a crime they didn’t commit as suggested by the title of this post (Tony even posted a picture of an obviously African ghetto with the caption, ‘is this where your next advertiser is emailing from?’) and you still maintain its just a name given to a vice we are trying hard to purge.

    I’ll bury spades here since Tony has apologized on his blog.

  • @Lara,

    The level of sycophancy and hypocrisy you display on this issue is stinking to high heavens.

    So, people should leave Tony alone and yell at the CBN and British Government? This is the most idiotic position I have seen anyone hold in ages.

  • Why would any person choose to receive a check that pays more than the stated price? That is a clear red flag right there!

    What is obvious is these scams thrive on the innate ‘greedy’ tendency of the victims. It takes two to tango, people. Be smart, be wise!

  • @Drixie – And I’m quite sure that when Darren gets back from SXSW, he will make his own statement about the situation. As I’ve said before, I don’t speak for him, I speak for myself, and I am only stating that I believe that neither Darren nor Tony deserve to be berated for passing along info as they got it. It’s more of a “don’t shoot the messenger” kind of thing in my opinion. I do know Darren well enough to know he’s neither racist or anti-Nigerian people. But he is against scams and fraud. That’s all.

    @Afam – Name-calling and accusations like that don’t make you look smart because you used “big words”. Obviously that wasn’t a literal suggestion that one go to the CBN or British government. I was simply stating where the name of the scam originated, and that it was not by Tony or Darren. This has nothing to do with being a sycophant or hypocrite – it simply has to do with illustration of a point.

  • Hi all

    thanks for your conversation and feedback.

    Let me start by saying that if this post offends you – I am very sorry. It was not my attention for this post to be about race – but a post that was a warning to people about a problem that a good friend of mine had been researching.

    Having said that – it seems that some of you were offended by it and that is something that makes me sad as it could not have been any further from my mind when I wrote it.

    I can see why Nigerian people would be upset about the issue of spam and what it might have done to their reputation as a nation – in the mind of some ‘Nigeria’ has become synonymous with ‘spam’ – this can’t be a good thing for 99.9999999% of Nigerians who are legitimate citizens of the web. I’d also say that while I’m sure there are some Nigerians who spam/defraud that it’s probably no higher a % of Aussies, US citizens, Europeans.

    I am not one to be able to say much about where this type of fraud originated from – I’ll leave that debate to others but I wanted to take a moment away from my trip to stop by and say sorry to our Nigerian friends.

  • @darren

    thank you very much.