Historical Events  General
Nigerian Prince Scam

First appeared?

MMDE: 1830's

Current: 1930's

By now, most people who've been using email for any length of time are aware it can be used as part of a scam attempt to make money. Many of these are in the form of some individual claiming to be able to access a large amount with just a little help from someone on the outside.

They are not addressed to individuals at the start, because they are send in bulk in the hope someone believes them and follows up. At that point, they are personalised because the scammer then develops the con further with their potential victim, leading up to the inevitable point where they ask for money up front so they can get more back.

These are popularly known as the "Nigerian Prince Scam" and are seen as a modern phenomenom, but they actually first appeared in the 1830's.

The Spanish Prisoner scam

There was one which can be traced back to the 18th century where the potential victims were asked for a small amount of money to bribe the guards of a wealthy prisoner in Spain, who whould share the reward once freed.

The popularisation of email in the 1980's meant the scam could be undertaken far easier than before. Unfortunately, because it happened to take off initially in Nigera with it's abundance of anonymous cyber cafes, the name "Nigerian Prince Scam" stuck and is now used for all such scams.