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I've recently been emailing back-and-forth with a spammer from Nigeria. Background: After he spammed RPG.SE, I decided to have a little fun emailing back and forth with him Here's a transcript of our conversation.

He is attempting to get me to pay $170, USD, for a "vampire initiation fee". He has provided me with his email address, phone number, and location, down to the city (Edo State, Nigeria).

What would be required to prosecute a person who is attempting such fraud in Nigeria? What sort of evidence would need to be given to the police?

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    If you're e-mailing back and forth maybe he legitimately thinks you're interested in the vampire initiation. – Brandin Jul 3 '18 at 18:30
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    Are you sure that's fraud and not just someone who believes in vampirism and/or has invented some practice around to which he is offering initiation? It seems to me there are such people in the US, too, not generally being prosecuted for it. – Dronz Jul 3 '18 at 18:40
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    @Dronz read the transcript. OP claimed to be 8, didn't bother the other side. Quite a funny read, actually. – Angelo Fuchs Jul 3 '18 at 19:13
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    Even if you could somehow initiate prosecution against them, the address is highly likely to be fake. – vsz Jul 3 '18 at 20:05
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    If OP is falsely pretending to be interested in this initiation and promising payment they don't actually intend to send, who is the one committing fraud? – R.. Jul 4 '18 at 4:16
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You didn't post the details of what exactly is involved with a "vampire initiation fee": is this simply the purchase of an physical object? Or the purchase of a service, such as the placing of a spell or the providing of the service of alleged protection from vampires? Or is this some form of a real "Advance-fee scam" where money and banking credentials or personal information is involved? (See link below).

But in the big picture, one person's scam is another person's persuasive business sales pitch for an unusual item or service. Simply being able to pay for such an item or service doesn't make the sale - or the contract to sell it - illegal everywhere.

It may be the case that selling an "vampire initiation fee" does not happen to be illegal in Nigeria. Illegal in the US, possibly yes. illegal there? Maybe not. Contract laws differ; in the US, contracting for something that is illegal voids the contract. In Nigeria, maybe not.

Though the "vampire initiation fee" doesn't sound to me like a classic Advance-fee scam (Wikipedia), Google search on 419 scams and the results will tell you that it will be nearly impossible to get a prosecutor in that country to deal with anything like that, even if it is a real scam that promises lots of money for an upfront fee. Prosecutors have much better things to do. And you might have to go to Nigeria to make your case; see other answers that more fully outline the laws and legal aspects.

Good luck. And it's better to spend your money on some garlic and a mirror.

7/03/18 Update re: the email transcript linked in question

That's not a scam; the person is simply trying to sell you on the initiation fee. There is no crime.

  • There is no promise of more money for a small fee (and bank credentials or personal information) like a typical 419 advance fee scam.

  • You're not producing useful evidence for a prosecutor by engaging in the email and mostly agreeing to pay him.

  • It's not illegal for you to send money by Western Union for the vampire fee.

  • Even if you did send money, you're not being defrauded because you already know the vampire initiation is fake, and as a result you couldn't logically prove to a prosecutor or court that you were scammed.

  • He's not guilty of fraud as no money has changed hands for a (fraudulent) service.

  • Emailing with him might make you feel good by wasting his time, but that's all.

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    I wouldn't be so sure this is illegal in the US either, at least I hope not! Would be cool to get some kind of certificate stating that you're now a card-carrying vampire, and I'm sure a lot of jokers would pay good money for that. – pipe Jul 3 '18 at 19:36
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    Probably would be fine; people buy amazon.com/Zombie-Survival-Guide-Complete-Protection/dp/… . And there doesn't appear to be an FDA disclaimer on it. – BlueDogRanch Jul 3 '18 at 19:49
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    @BlueDogRanch Because zombie pandemic preparedness is officially promoted by the CDC! Actually, the OP isn't in a scam yet but if you're gullible enough to fall for it, it may become one. The purpose of crazy stories is to filter out people with some sense. – user71659 Jul 3 '18 at 20:46
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    @BlueDogRanch That book is a parody, according to the Amazon description. I don't see how it's relevant. – jpmc26 Jul 4 '18 at 8:27
  • With regards to no money changing hands, in the UK at least, it is not required to actually gain something from the deception. You merely need to have intended to gain something. See s 2(1)(b) of the Fraud Act 2006. Whether or not the OP knows the information is fake is also irrelevant. What is relevant is whether the person making the claim knows it is fake. See s 2(2) of the same Act. Based solely on UK law (I am not sure of Nigerian law) I would disagree that this can't be capable of being fraud. – JBentley Jul 5 '18 at 3:13
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A LOT would be required. In fact I think it would be next to impossible.

  1. Local authorities don't care about minor crimes (this is a minor crime) committed by people abroad. They don't have the resources to try and pursue prosecution and even if you hand over lots of evidence they would at most pass the details on to the Nigerian police. There have been people that have actually lost hundreds of thousands of pounds and authorities have essentially said "sorry we'll never catch them so goodluck we won't try".
  2. Nigerian authorities won't care. Nigeria[Lagos] is a historical hub of international fraud largelly because of how lawless it is. You could at one point buy fake documents from the side of the road. African police in general, especially Nigerian, are corrupt and even if they did try to arrest him he would likely get out with a bribe. Plus, the police there are not sympathetic.
  3. The details he gave you are probably fake. I suspect he gave you them to build a sense of trust, but even if police turn up at that address I doubt they would find the person responsible.

Checkout this documentary to give you an idea of the effort required: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=wam+bamb+thank+you+scam

Essentially he lost a lot of money over many years to a fake investor. Authorities wouldn't offer any meaningful help unless he could actually find the person that did it, and despite great effort and scheming he never finds the individual (tracks him to a apartment building).

IF you were able to get them in front of a court then, without knowing exactly, I suspect you would need:

You would need to prove a crime was committed (email chain and records of money transfers made, provided by your bank). And you would need to link the culprit to the emails using things like IP and MAC addresses. Need to make sure the person's local computer shares the same MAC/IP address as the source of the emails. However, as the answer above me mentions, this might not even be a crime yet! And this information would be gathered by the police, but they won't put resources into investigating.

  • "hundreds of thousands of points"? Like Stack Exchange reputation points or something? – jpmc26 Jul 4 '18 at 8:29
  • ahaha ssshhhh you know what I mean, – HelloWorld Jul 4 '18 at 9:29
  • Actually, I was ot expecting "pounds" to be the replacement, so no, I didn't. ;) – jpmc26 Jul 4 '18 at 9:32
  • What other currency than her majesties superior sovereign coin! Ruule Britannia, Britannia rules the waaaves! – HelloWorld Jul 4 '18 at 9:45
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Prosecution is conducted by the Federal Ministry of Justice, and this is their contact page. They probably will require a prior police investigation, and here is the Nigerian Police contact page for complaints. If the person is indeed in Nigeria. You allegation would be violation of violation of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Decree. The offense is defined in part 1: "by any false pretence, and with intent to defraud... obtains, from any other person". (The clause is defectively worded, lacking a thing being obtained, but this is no doubt interpreted to mean "property").

The difficulty would be proving that there was a false pretense and an intent to defraud. While you may not believe in vampires, the belief is legally tolerated. Some states have laws against the actual practice of witchcraft (Bauchi for example). You may have to travel to Edo State to research those laws – there does not appear to be a safe internet resource on Edo state law.

  • Just had a conversation with a Nigerian. He did not reply when I asked which part of Nigeria are you from? – Manoj Kumar Jul 4 '18 at 14:27

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