Other official-looking letters were sent from a writer who said he was a director of the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.He said he wanted to transfer million to the recipient’s bank account – money that was budgeted but never spent.
Some scammers have accomplices in the United States and abroad that move in to finish the deal once the initial contact has been made.
purportedly sent to a selected recipient but actually sent to many, making an offer that would allegedly result in a large payoff for the victim.
For example, in 2006, 61% of Internet criminals were traced to locations in the United States, while 16% were traced to the United Kingdom and 6% to locations in Nigeria.
One reason Nigeria may have been singled out is the apparently comical, almost ludicrous nature of the promise of West African riches from a Nigerian prince.
One variant of the scam may date back to the 18th or 19th centuries, as a very similar letter, entitled "The Letter from Jerusalem", is seen in the memoirs of Eugène François Vidocq, a former French criminal and private investigator. One of these, sent via postal mail, was addressed to a woman's husband, and inquired about his health.