Why has fraud become so widespread these days

Scamming: what is behind the scam?

Scamming is derived from the English term for "fraud" or "swindle" (scam). The term is closely related to the criminological term of advance fraud, but includes many different forms of this form of fraud, especially online. What they all have in common is that the fraudsters try to use false facts to to induce their victims to make a cash payment ("advance payment"). At the same time, you promise resulting profits, inheritances or significantly higher repayments.

Once the payment has been received by the criminals, the contact is usually broken off immediately. The promise is not fulfilled and the money paid is mostly irretrievably lost. Contact is usually made online via e-mail, but now also via chat portals, messengers, social networks and dating platforms. The fraudsters have even made their way into online marketplaces for real estate, jobs or used cars.

The scam via letter post has been around for centuries, but it wasn't until the 1980s that the procedure became a mass phenomenon originating in Nigeria. In the wake of the collapse in oil prices, high inflation rates and the resulting poverty in Nigeria, some fraudsters sent masses of forged letters to business people in western countries by mail or fax. They pretended to come from financial institutions that could deliver crude oil to the addressees at a low price - but only if an advance payment was made. The "Nigeria Connection" has since become the epitome of scamming. Even today, many scamming emails come from Nigeria and other West African countries. The phenomenon has nonetheless become global - victims and perpetrators are sitting in front of computers around the world.

However, the dubious letters have become more professional: it is not uncommon for the attached documents to look deceptively real, have elaborately forged logos or try to appear even more authentic through spied on the victim's personal information. Websites, phone numbers and entire networks of fake accounts are set up to make the scammers look like real people. Public profiles in social networks provide the criminals with the data they need to support the letters with details about the victim's professional or private life. Sometimes scamming e-mails can also contain attachments with malware that, for example, spy out data from the victim's computer.