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The term“scamming” or“scam” is of English origin and translated into German means something like cheating. Scamming refers to criminal methods used by criminals to deceive gullible and naive people into transferring sums of money to them. The so-called “scammers”, as the people who carry out a scam are called, use various methods and strategies to get their victims’ money.

The Nigerian Prince Scam

Probably the most well-known scamming method is the so-called“Nigeria Connection“. This scam involves a person contacting the victim by e-mail. The criminal pretends to be the executor of an African prince’s estate and offers the victim the prospect of considerable sums of money: a deceased prince has appointed the person contacted as the heir to his fortune. In order for the legal matters to be clarified, however, an advance payment must be made. This is, of course, an attempt at fraud, which most people recognise immediately. However, the allure of inheriting a million-dollar sum causes some people to fall for this scam and transfer this payment to the criminal via Western Union, for example.
Once the money has been transferred, the victim usually doesn’t hear anything more from the executor of the estate. However, some scammers are even more brazen. For example, they demand another payment after the first one. There are also scam methods in which large sums of money from lotteries are promised, which can also only be paid out after the alleged processing fees have been paid.

The romance scam

In what is known as“romance scamming,” the scammer establishes a personal connection with their victim over an extended period of time. The scammers usually contact their victims on dating sites and shower them with compliments and declarations of love. If the victim falls for this scam and regular contact develops between the scammer and victim, in many cases the scammer will pretend to be in crisis. For example, he may claim to be in desperate need of money to pay for an operation for his mother. This arouses the victim’s pity. Furthermore, the scammer talks about planning a long relationship with the new partner and that he will pay back the borrowed money in full. It is not uncommon for romance scammers to claim that they need the money for a plane ticket to supposedly travel to their new love partner.

Scamming when shopping online

Another popular scamming method, is often used when buying high value electrical goods or cars over the World Wider Web. The unsuspecting dealer receives the payment from the scammer as a bank check. In this case, the real sales price is deliberately not stated, but a sum of money that is much higher. The alleged buyer, however, does not want to take back this cheque and instead demands that the seller pay back the remaining amount by bank transfer. The unsuspecting seller does just that. Later, however, it turns out that the bank check does not clear, so the seller loses not only the money but also the item sold.

How to protect yourself

To avoid falling for potential scammers, one should always look at emails critically. For example, you should ask yourself how realistic it is that a strange person from a foreign country would like to give you a large sum of money. The best protection is to delete such conspicuous e-mails immediately and never to open any attachments.

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