Nigerian dating scam artists

Richie said he was from Milford, Mass., but that he was out of the country on a big construction job.He was helping build a stadium in Nigeria, he said. I had no qualms whatsoever cashing (the money orders)," Smalley said.“I thought he was too good to be true.”Chatting nightly over Yahoo!

Richie's picture showed a jolly, bearded man curled up on a couch with a cat rubbing his face.

"Loving, caring and hardworking," the online dating profile said.

When Theresa Smalley received a note from Richie last January asking if she wanted to chat, she was flattered. The two began exchanging e-mails, friendly at first, but quickly swelling in intensity and passion.

By Valentine's Day, Smalley received a box of chocolate candy, a teddy bear, and a helium balloon that said "I love you." Smalley, 46, was hooked, even though she had never met him.

But Michael* also grew up a “street boy,” meaning he was able to make fast friends in the slum villages and farming communities we visited.

He put himself through college, and after working as a Nigerian soap opera actor and door-to-door men’s clothing salesman, he clawed his way into journalism.

As soon as he returned, he promised, he'd come visit Smalley in Ohio. The spirited e-mail romance hummed along for another two months before there was a problem. Even after the bank told her the money orders had been altered — they were purchased for , but then "washed" and doctored to read 0 — she still held out hope.

Richie said his boss paid him in postal money orders, and he was having trouble cashing them. Could she cash the money order for him, then wire the money to him in Nigeria? But a friend pointed her to an Internet site devoted to Nigerian scams, and suddenly, Smalley's world crashed down around her.

Smalley agreed, and over the next two weeks, she cashed two 0 money orders and sent along the funds. 'My whole world had fallen apart' "The bank told me I was responsible for that money. Smalley shared her version of events with in the hopes that others might not fall for the same trickery.

Then, Richie was ready to leave the country, but needed money to deal with a visa problem. I had to pay them ,700, which was everything I had," she said. "Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever known that this is all a part of an elaborate online scam. agencies have issued warnings on the scams, also known as "419" or "advance-fee" frauds.

Here is what I have experienced (luckily, I was smart enough not to fall for it): A guy starts communicating with a “woman” (the pictures are attractive).