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Some scammers have accomplices in the United States and abroad that move in to finish the deal once the initial contact has been made.

This scam usually begins with the perpetrator contacting the victim via email, instant messaging or social media using a fake email address or fake social media account and 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.

The scam has been used with fax and traditional mail, and is now prevalent in online communications like emails.

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