“Nigerian Doctor”: Leave grandma alone!

My 85-year-old grandmother makes and sells quilts. Apparently, there is someone in this world sick enough to see this as an opportunity to bilk her out of some money. Following are "Dr. Smith's" emails as grandma received them (minus any of her identifying information).

Jan 7, 2009 06:43 PM I come across your a dvert and am very pleased with your final asking price and i am interested in purchasing it,I want to know if its still available for sales, and i will like to see any current picture of it if its available... I would like to make an outright purchase immediately so I will advice that you withdraw the advert from the web. I don't mind adding $50 for you to do that..kindly get back to me with your payment information stated like this as i intend paying via cashier check.

Jan 10, 2009 10:50:14 AM How are you today?i have just email to let you know that you will be receiving the payment soon...And more so my shipping fund will be included with the payment coming to you..so as soon as you receive it take it to your bank and exchange it for cash deduct the total asking price for the Purple Quilt and get the rest sent via western union money transfer to my shipping company information that will be given to you as soon as you confirm the payment,so i will like you to await the payment strongly and get me updated as soon as you receive it. Hope to have a successful business transaction with you in good faith. Best Regard Dr Smith.

Jan 20, 2009 07:26:11 PM This is to get you updated that payment has been sent out to you via UPS.COM ,i urge you to get it cashed right away at your bank and deduct your last asking price after which you contact my shipping company via e-mail get the remaining funds sent to them via western union money transfer which is the safest way of sending money world-wide..The excess funds on the payment will enable the shipping company make proper arrangement towards the homepickup at your place such as tax fee,flight fee and there actual shippment fee as well Shippers details. X ALLEN AVENUE IKEJA LAGOS NIGERIA 23401 NOTE:When sending the money,make sure you compulsory the question and answer as a security code,after which you have sent the money,kindly get back to me with the co-ordinates such as : SENDERS NAME AND ADDRESS AMOUNT SENT AFTER WESTERN UNION CHARGES WESTERN UNION CONTROL NUMBER(MTCN) Make sure you send a copy of the western union slip to my shipper via e-mail I hope you will complete this transaction with me in good faith.

The price of the quilt was $325, but when the check arrived, it was made out for $3,250. The scammer hoped she would wire the substantial difference before the phony check bounced. (Click here for a detailed run down how the scam works.) Thankfully, my Internet-savvy grandma smelled something fishy and ripped up the check instead. Sadly, fraud against senior citizens is substantial. According to the FBI, senior citizens are an easy target for some unscrupulous marketers because they are often home and have access to a lifetime of savings. And as Internet use among seniors increases, so does their chances to fall victim fraud. If you are close to an elderly computer user, I encourage you to make your Internet-savvy self available to answer any questions they might have about online use and security. If you or someone you love is approached by a scammer, the FBI suggests that you share the information with your local FBI office. You can also register a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel. You know what I think the worst part of this is? Grandma thought someone wanted to buy her beautiful quilt.

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.