A man that I met on Facebook was called to do a job in West Africa. He got there and found out that there is a problem with his Swiss bank account. He needs 2000 to finish the job so he can come home. He gave me the account numbers so I could check and the account says that he has 40,000,000 ! I still don't feel comfortable with it. How would I know if he is scamming me?

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    How did you verify the funds in his account? Did you navigate to a website or phone system that the man told you to visit? – Freiheit Oct 23 at 14:21
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    I don't see any indication in your question of why you WANT to send the money. Are you being promised a reward? It's obviously a scam either way, but still... ridiculous. – only_pro Oct 23 at 15:55
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    Out of interest, how long did he befriend you for, before asking for the money? To clarify I am sure it's a scam, but interested how much effort he put in. – Jim W Oct 23 at 16:49
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    Why can't you just take the money out of his account? – Anoplexian Oct 23 at 22:30
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    Maybe it's time to pick a canonic scam question, write a community wiki answer to it if needed, and stop going over yet another scam e-mail over and over again? – Dmitry Grigoryev Oct 24 at 7:38

Nobody with 40 million in the bank needs a random stranger to help them out with a few thousands. No matter which problem he has, with the liquidity available to him, he can access funds and his bank will support him in this, because if he has 40 million sitting in a bank account, it means his invested capital is at least one order of magnitude larger.

So he is short something like 0.0005% of his net worth. His bank will be happy to send him that money, by personal courier if necessary, no matter what temporary account troubles there may be.

Not to mention that West Africa is not a remote jungle anymore. There are numerous payment services such as M-PESA in operation in Africa, and any millionaire going there for business would certainly have himself set up with an account for daily expenditures.

Which brings us to the "have himself set up" - people with this amount of cash don't work alone. They have secretaries, assistants, companies, financial advisors and many other people that would be far ahead on their list of "call in case of emergency" over some random guy on the Internet. Not to mention family.

Yes, this is a scam. It's hard to tell what kind of scam it is and whether you are intended to be a victim or an unknowning accomplice. But it has all the signs for a scam and none of the signs of being real.

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    Not to mention that nobody with $40 million would actually park that amount in a bank account. In the US, only $250,000 would be insured should the bank go belly up. – Michael_B Oct 24 at 12:36
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    Your arguments are all valid but this would still obviously be a scam if he had only 40.000. – kapex Oct 24 at 14:37
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    @kapex it would still raise flags, but this is the one obvious red flag where you can just stop evaluating all the others. With 40k, it would not be such bright. – Tom Oct 24 at 16:18
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    @Tom It's for sure the most obvious sign to catch this scam. As a general rule for evaluating whether something is a scam you could also stop at "a random stranger contacted me" though, to catch almost all scams. I'm not disagreeing with your answer, I'm just wondering if a gullible person reading it might think "this time it's not a millionaire so this is not a scam" when the next scammer tries a similar trick. – kapex Oct 24 at 16:44
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    @Michael_B You would be surprised – user1723699 Oct 24 at 17:30

We are of course unable to tell for sure, but this situation has all the hallmarks of a classic confidence trick.

  1. Meet random people on the Internet.
  2. Build a personal connection.
  3. Tell them you are in some pickle where you urgently need them to send you money. Promise them they get it back immediately.
  4. If they fall for it and actually do send money, ask for even more money.
  5. When they stop sending money, break contact.

This scam appears over and over again with all kinds of identities and stories.

In this case, it is really fishy that a businessman with over 40 million in their bank account would 1. use online banking with username and password to access that account and 2. give their password to someone they never met in person instead of an employee, trustworthy business partner or relative.

He gave me the account numbers so I could check and the account says he has 40000000 !

I assume what you mean with this is that he gave you online banking credentials, you logged into his account and found that amount of money. Possible explanations:

  • The bank doesn't actually exist. It's just a fake website the scammers set up to fraud people like you. This should be easy to check by simply googling the name of the bank.
  • It's a real account, but it's not his account. He bought the login credentials from a hacker.
  • It actually is his real account. The money you see is all the money he obtained from other people like you using the same method.

...or does he expect you to not send your own money but actually send him money from that account?

Then he is likely asking you to commit online banking fraud on his behalf. The account password was stolen by a hacker. The hacker wants you to send the money to his real account. When the real account owner reports the fraudulent transfer, the bank will check the access logs and find your IP address. A while later the police will knock on your door and start questioning you about why you log into online banking accounts which don't belong to you and send money to West Africa. You better hope that the court believes your story, or you will go to jail on the hacker's behalf.

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    I really don't like the first sentence of this - we know for sure it is a scam. That type of waivering is crucial to convincing someone on the fence that they should go along with what the scammer says. Being hardline here is more important, in my opinion, than allowing for lightning striking aliens-type chance. – Grade 'Eh' Bacon Oct 23 at 12:55
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    @Grade'Eh'Bacon From an emotional stand point, I completely agree with you since we care about OP not getting scammed. From an objective stand point, despite the risk it entails I actually prefer the wording Philipp chose here since we only have evidence, not proof. – cgage1 Oct 23 at 16:06
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    @Anton This isn't about 'scientific process'. This is about saving some poor soul from losing thousands of dollars to a 100% clear and verified scanner. It is a fact that ZERO people in the entire history of planet earth have given a stranger login details to their 'swiss bank account' with $40M inside, and needed a separate transfer of $2k in order to access it in West Africa. ZERO. – Grade 'Eh' Bacon Oct 23 at 16:53
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    As a compromise (if you don't want to remove the statement of uncertainty), I'd suggest starting the answer with "This situation has all the hallmarks..." and moving the first part of the first sentence to the end and making it something like: "We are of course unable to say this without a shadow of a doubt, but, given the above, this is almost certainly a scam". You really don't want to start (or end) with the implication that we're not really sure (nor do you want it in the middle, but at least there it has some padding). – NotThatGuy Oct 23 at 17:13
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    I agree with @Grade'Eh'Bacon that "we are unable to tell for sure" is a red herring and casts more doubt than it should. The answer should begin with "We are able to tell it's a scam far beyond a reasonable doubt", which is all anyone needs to know when deciding to send the money or not. – Nuclear Wang Oct 23 at 17:14

There are absolutely no scenarios under which someone who has internet access sufficient to contact you cannot get his own money out of his own internet banking service.

That's your first Red Flag

The second is that he contacted you, a relative stranger, to handle his money.
Don't be taken in by having contacted initially via facebook. Facebook accounts are trivially easy to make up and because they're not email, they get less scrutiny than they should.
Rule of thumb: do not accept facebook requests unless you personally know the name, and even then, verify they are actually that person.
Spoofing a real person's facebook account by copying images and info from their public account is only fractionally less trivial than making one from scratch.

Thirdly, International Swiss banking is way less common than you'd expect, cold-war-themed fiction has given us the idea that swiss banks are where Loads of Money gets put as a tax-haven. This is..less than realistic. If someone is talking about their Swiss Bank Account, it's probably to make it sound more important. That's a major red flag.

This is a ridiculously unlikely scenario, there's no doubt in my mind that it's a scam and that you should block them on facebook and forget the whole thing.
Don't even consider it, unless you knew somehow that it was 100% legit. You will undoubtedly get scammed out of at least thousands of dollars and likely go to jail in the worst case if you pursue this.

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    Instead of blocking the Facebook account, OP could play along and feign obstacles that are keeping them from sending the funds, or keep providing "it's in the mail" responses. ;) Why let the scammer off easy and cut their losses? Keep them tied up and confused; you will be entertained, and they will be scamming fewer other people in the meantime. – Aaron Oct 23 at 19:39
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    @Aaron While the likes of James Veitch make messing with scammers look entertaining and fun, I'd say that distancing yourself from them is safer all-round. Messing with them likely doesn't actually stop them scamming others, you're just one of many they're dealing with at any given time. – Ruadhan2300 Oct 24 at 7:58
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    The Swiss flag is for sure one of the biggest red flags. – Baptiste Candellier Oct 24 at 8:50
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    @Aaron I would also like some revenge. Most likely the scammer will get a little disturbed before continuing with other "prospects". But we already know, that a scammer won't follow our rules. He might threaten to hurt one of your facebook's friends. Play games with friends, not with criminals. – Walter A Oct 24 at 11:47
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    @BaptisteCandellier True, but there's also a white cross in the middle, which is a big plus. (sorry for the old joke) – user568458 Oct 25 at 10:46

His 40 Million dollars don't matter a dime to you, Your 2 thousand dollars do. Don't be distracted.

Remember All that glitters is not gold. While You may not be looking for a share in that 40 million, this scam utilizes the allure of fake wealth so that the target person feels some greed hoping they will get more than their principal loan amount when the rich guy is out of trouble and pays back for their good deed.

Think straight.

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    Best answer yet. – tgm1024 Oct 29 at 1:40

Ah, the legendary Swiss bank accounts. Having some first-hand experience with real-life Swiss bank accounts, I'll show yet another reason why this is a scam.

  • The so-called Swiss numbered accounts, as seen in movies etc. do not exist. Every single account belongs to a named person or company.
  • On the other hand, the Swiss are actually big on banking secrecy. Also, account numbers are assumed public knowledge. Knowing someones account number is nowhere near enough data to find out who that account belong to, let alone to check the balance on that account. Knowing an account number only allows one to deposit money onto that account, nothing more.
  • Like, seriously. You'd need login name, password and a 2nd factor token to actually check how much someone has on their account.
  • If you have 40 million in a Swiss account, the bank will do a whole lot of things for you, because you are a Very Important Customer. Most likely, you have access to a 24/7 consierge service provided by the bank. Just call them to receive plane tickets, concert tickets, etc. Arranging to receive a bit of cash would be trivial.
  • "The so-called Swiss numbered accounts, as seen in movies etc. do not exist" Yes they do. They are used for some customers to guarantee extra anonymity within the bank. The customer is referred by numbers and normal bank employees do not know who they are dealing with when processing this account. The mapping "number to customer" is known by a small circle. – WoJ Oct 28 at 19:12
  • "You'd need login name, password and a 2nd factor token to actually check how much someone has on their account" In all the accounts I had (in Switzerland and in other places in the world) the 2FA was used for so called sensitive operations like wire transfers. The content of the account is visible after user/password login. YMMV though. – WoJ Oct 28 at 19:14
  • @WoJ Postfinance for example uses a challenge-response system (which needs the correct debit card) in addition to username/password for each normal login. – Michael Bolli Oct 29 at 10:12
  • @MichaelBolli: yes, there will certainly be all kind of accounts (though my "YMMV"). What I mentioned is based in the experience of a dozen+ accounts I had in the world, and specifically two in Switzerland (especially in line with the confident "Like, seriously. You'd need login name, password and a 2nd factor token to actually check how much someone has on their account" point) – WoJ Oct 29 at 10:16

Check this out, it's called Nigerian Scam: https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/types-of-scams/unexpected-money/nigerian-scams

The scammer will tell you an elaborate story about large amounts of their money trapped in banks during events such as civil wars or coups, often in countries currently in the news. Or they may tell you about a large inheritance that is 'difficult to access' because of government restrictions or taxes in their country. The scammer will then offer you a large sum of money to help them transfer their personal fortune out of the country.

These scams are often known as 'Nigerian 419' scams because the first wave of them came from Nigeria. The '419' part of the name comes from the section of Nigeria’s Criminal Code which outlaws the practice. These scams now come from anywhere in the world.

Scammers may ask for your bank account details to 'help them transfer the money' and use this information to later steal your funds.

Or they may ask you to pay fees, charges or taxes to 'help release or transfer the money out of the country' through your bank. These fees may even start out as quite small amounts. If paid, the scammer may make up new fees that require payment before you can receive your reward. They will keep asking for more money as long as you are willing to part with it.

I get at least one os such emails every week and I was always wondering if somebody takes this for real. There is one golden rule in life if it is too good to be true it's not true. Or in other words, if it smells like a trap it's a trap.

  • This is not the Nigerian 419 scam. The victim is not being offered a share of some vast fortune. It might be a related scam, or a different one (e.g. the victim might be used as a money mule in a laundering operation). – Tom Oct 30 at 11:18
  • it's definitely a 419 scam: 40,000,000 is a fortune, he needs an upfront fee to "unlock" the fortune. Op didn't explicitly tell that a reward is involved but that can be assumed from the context. – Andi Giga Oct 30 at 22:10
  • Nowhere was the victim offered a share of 40 mio. He was offered to receive the loan back with interest and shown 40 mio. as a "proof" that the scammer is afluent enough that he will not trick you for what is for him small money. Related, but not the same thing. – Tom Oct 31 at 6:10

A man that I met on Facebook was called to do a job in West Africa. He got there and found out that there is a problem with his Swiss bank account. He needs 2000 to finish the job so he can come home. He gave me the account numbers so I could check and the account says that he has 40,000,000 ! I still don't feel comfortable with it. How would I know if he is scamming me?

  • Why is this guy contacting you for help, and not his employer? When I travel overseas for work, my employer has an emergency contact service to help me if I get sick/robbed/etc. (What sort of "job" pays that well, anyway?)
  • Anybody who has that kind of money will have more than one account with more than one bank, not to mention VIP service to cover little hiccups like this.
  • Anybody who has that kind of money is unlikely to be travelling alone.
  • Anybody who has that kind of money is unlikely to be befriending random people on Facebook, let alone sharing their bank account details. For all he knows, you could use that information to pull off a scam by showing that info to somebody else and claiming it as your account.

If you use Google Image Search to check his Facebook profile photo, you will quite likely find that he has stolen it from somebody else. Sometimes scammers will "clone" people's accounts - e.g. somebody created a new account where they copied most of the profile from my father-in-law's account, and then tried to get money from his friends.

You don't mention exactly what makes you feel uncomfortable about this, but I will guess that your interaction with this guy has most of the following patterns:

  • He contacted you out of the blue and didn't have any good explanation for how he knew you.
  • He stepped up the friendship very quickly, talking a lot about how special you are to him.
  • He is telling you that it's very urgent that you get the money to him as soon as possible, and insisting on a payment method of his choosing.

If your instinct tells you it's a scam, trust your instinct. (The reverse isn't always true, alas.)

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