Thursday, January 9, 2014

Attorney Duped by Nigerian Inheritance Scam Suspended

I like to believe that somewhere in Nigeria there is a prince with extraordinary wealth who can't understand why nobody will help him transfer some funds to the United States. He asks his right-hand-man about it, and he responds, "sire, I have emailed literally millions of Americans and offered them literally millions of dollars, but unfortunately none of them are willing to help us!" The prince responds, "then you shall email them again and offer even more money!"

Of course, we've all received these emails. And almost all of us have recognized it as a scam with no real prince, no millions of dollars, just an attempt to get rich quick by duping some random person on the Internet. You may be surprised to learn that an attorney actually fell for it (a similar scam at least) and got suspended for roping his clients into this mess. From the Iowa Supreme Court opinion:
While representing Floyd Lee Madison in a criminal case in 2011, [Attorney] Wright was presented with documents purporting to evidence that Madison was the beneficiary of a large bequest from his long-lost cousin in Nigeria. Madison represented to Wright that upon payment of $177,660 in taxes owed on the inheritance in Nigeria, the sum of $18,800,000 would be released to Madison. He asked Wright to represent him in securing the transfer of the funds from Nigeria. In consideration for a fee equal to ten percent of the funds recovered, Wright agreed to represent Madison in the Nigerian transaction.
Sadly, the attorney came up with the "taxes" due by getting the money from a handful of his clients. Needless to say, the $18M never came through. In fact, the scammers claimed the money was detained in Spain and they needed 25,600 Euros in "logistics charges." The attorney's license was suspended for twelve months.