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.