Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Stop father-in-law giving to Nigerian Email Scam ( No Answer,   9 Comments )
Subject: Stop father-in-law giving to Nigerian Email Scam
Category: Family and Home > Seniors
Asked by: helpstopscamvictim-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 17 Sep 2006 23:38 PDT
Expires: 17 Oct 2006 23:38 PDT
Question ID: 766235
How can I stop my father-in-law from giving all his money to the
Nigerian Email Scammers?


My father-in-law has a 30 year history of schemes and scams to
get-rich-quick.  Along the way he?s lost hundreds of thousands of
dollars, not only for himself but also for friends and family that
have ?invested? in these ?opportunities?.

At some point along the way he came across the Nigerian Email Scam and
found the answer to all his financial troubles.  Many letters, emails,
phone calls, airplane tickets, and tens of thousands of dollars later,
he still hasn?t received a penny.

Four years ago his wife finally sought financial separation, after
finding a letter from the bank notifying her of foreclosure on their
home.  He responded by filing for divorce, moving hundreds of miles
away, buying a new house, and separating himself from the family.

And now, with credit cards maxed out and his home taken by the bank,
he?s still chasing the scam, faithfully contributing his handsome
pension and social security every month.  After all, you can?t stop
now...  when you?re so close to the payout.  Even grocery money goes
to the scam.

To his credit, he finally has the key to the safe deposit box that
contains the millions.  If it wasn?t for that faulty radiator in
Texas, they would have made it to meet him in person and lead him to
the bank.  Not to mention that bribe needed to get back into the
country after deportation.

Along the way there?s been family interventions, letters, visits, and
phone calls to help kick his addiction to these scams.

We?ve opened our spam box to show other scam emails and sent copies of
media exposÚs on the Nigerian Email Scam.  Yes, even the fantastic
article in the New Yorker, ?The Perfect Mark?
(  But
the result is the always, ?it?s not the same.?

Sometimes he?ll confess that it?s hard to believe, but within a week
he?ll be convinced once again of how close he is to the riches...  If
only he send a couple thousand and a plane ticket.

Fortunately he couldn?t convince the bank to cash any of the
fraudulent checks the Nigerians sent him, but that didn?t stop him
from opening an account for the Nigerians to use.

He wouldn?t knowingly break the law, but it?s clear that it?s only a
matter of time before he finds a bank to cash a fraudulent check.

I?d like to blame the Nigerian scammers, but if it wasn?t their email
scam, it?d be another scam or pyramid scheme.  Unfortunately his drive
for financial success supersedes all else... his family, friends, even

Are there state, legal, or medical options to stop him?
His pension would be more than adequate to put him in a home of some
sort, but how can we get him there?
What other options exist for people being scammed but refusing to admit it?

Clarification of Question by helpstopscamvictim-ga on 18 Sep 2006 11:03 PDT
I posted a duplicate question to Yahoo! Answers:

Hopefully combined comments will bring effective action steps.  Thank
you for your help.

Clarification of Question by helpstopscamvictim-ga on 20 Sep 2006 09:39 PDT
I contacted a friend of mine in the US Secret Service for his help
(thanks politicalguru-ga for the advice).  I'm posting an excerpt from
his response to help others that experience a similar challenge and
come across this question.


I have dealt with this problem a lot over the years as family members
have called for help.  The reality is if your father in law is not
responding to common sense talk then your family may have to think
about the best way to control his spending.  I personally think there
is some type is compulsive disorder when it comes to this level of
You can contact your local Secret Service Office and ask if you can
bring in your Father in Law for a talk.  I have done this and most
offices can have an agent sit down with your father in law. Though I'm
not sure of the long term effects.  And yes there is the danger of him
breaking the law at some point or traveling in furtherance of the con.
So I would look into how legally you my curtain his spending ability
and call your SS office and ask to Speak with an Agent.  Explain the
depth of the problem and see if they will put some fear into him.
Is a very difficult problem to curtail with people, I equate it to a
gambling type addiction.


We haven't taken this step yet, and are still exploring our options. 
If you have further answers, please comment.
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Stop father-in-law giving to Nigerian Email Scam
From: politicalguru-ga on 18 Sep 2006 00:36 PDT
Perhaps calling the local branch of the Secret Service (they're on the
"Blue Pages" and you can also find the branch here: ) and ask them what
to do - they have a task force to deal with this crime.

By the way, as you said it yourself, it sounds like an addiction -
just like an addiction to gambling (that this is *the time* that he'd
get lucky) and maybe an addiction centre would be also appropriate,
especially if there's a specialist in gamling, which probably works on
the same mechanism.
Subject: Re: Stop father-in-law giving to Nigerian Email Scam
From: answerfinder-ga on 18 Sep 2006 01:03 PDT
From my experience as a Fraud Squad in the UK, there are,
unfortunately, a few people like your father. They will just not
accept that they are being defrauded, it almost borders on a
compulsion. Your father needs to understand that he is not just
sending money to a fraudster, he is funding serious crime: drugs,
murder, prostitution and blackmail, and not only in Nigeria, but
across the world. You say he would not knowingly break the law. Well,
it has got to the stage that he has been told so many times that he
could be prosecuted for the offence of money laundering - certainly in
this country. I?m not sure about the law in the States, but I suspect
the same applies. Perhaps he needs to a law enforcement officer to
point this out to him and show him the misery caused by this scam.
Subject: Re: Stop father-in-law giving to Nigerian Email Scam
From: probonopublico-ga on 18 Sep 2006 01:41 PDT
I also know two people who have thrown all their money and then some
into get-rich-quick schemes ... It's always the next one that will
sort everything out.

Sadly, one committed suicide after squandering a fortune and finishing up in debt.

It is an obsession and there is no reasoning with them.

Maybe there is some form of 'court protection' that can be invoked?

Worth checking out!

Subject: Re: Stop father-in-law giving to Nigerian Email Scam
From: keystroke-ga on 18 Sep 2006 07:18 PDT
It is great that you want to help, but as you said, if it wasn't
emailing Nigeria, it would be some other scheme. Your father-in-law
obviously enjoys these scams. Maybe they even keep him young! Who

I knew an older person who would give hundreds, even thousands, of
dollars a month to the "Canadian lottery" and was so convinced that he
would win it "any day now." When asked how long he had been playing
this lottery, he would say, "Oh, 25 years." When asked when he'd ever
won, he would say he never had but just knew that that was coming any
day now.  Obviously, he had spent a fortune on this lottery, so much
so that he could have funded his own lottery if he'd so chosen!

It just doesn't make sense but the appeal of a "get rick quick" scheme
is so appealing that people choose to believe in them anyway.

You might be able to have his power of attorney taken away and his
Social Security checks sent to your wife. I don't know if that would
make him too happy, however. It would be a drastic move.
Subject: Re: Stop father-in-law giving to Nigerian Email Scam
From: aussietpp-ga on 18 Sep 2006 11:30 PDT
Perhaps you should become the scammer and get him to send his money to you.

You could then re-direct the money back towards his upkeep.

Subject: Re: Stop father-in-law giving to Nigerian Email Scam
From: politicalguru-ga on 18 Sep 2006 14:04 PDT
If I may - I was appalled to see some of the reactions to your problem. 

Although one can also get addicted to lottery (which is, of course,
another type of compulsive/addictive behaviour, see what
Answerfinder-ga has written), you cannot compare these scams to
lottery. At least in principle, state lottery goes to all kind of
charity projects; in the case of the "Nigerian" scams, it is operated
by organised crime (not always in West Africa, nowadays all over the
world, including some with terrorist connections). These connections
are a good enough reason not to follow the extremely stupid advice of
sending him to Nigeria to meet the scammers. There have been already
cases of murder.

This is certainly a serious problem, which merits intervention or treatment. 

This might help: 

"Can a person be addicted to get-rich-quick schemes, and how can I
stop my father from ruining himself and my mother?"

Get help also from: 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Subject: Re: Stop father-in-law giving to Nigerian Email Scam
From: frde-ga on 19 Sep 2006 04:00 PDT
I did not see the post about meeting the scammers

- possibly you (Polly) got it removed 
- meeting them is a very silly idea 
- little chance of returning.

Given that he has tried to cash fraudulent cheques, I am rather
surprized that he has not had some run ins with law enforcement
- at which point his credit rating should disappear.

I could give you some links on the subject
- but it sounds as if your f-i-l is not exactly sane
- and you seem to be pretty clued up.

Maybe ask here:

They spend their time tormenting scammers, and some of them are very
adept, if nothing else they could confuse the parasites.

I think the technical term for what your f-i-l is suffering from is
'post cognitive dissonance'
Subject: Re: Stop father-in-law giving to Nigerian Email Scam
From: politicalguru-ga on 19 Sep 2006 04:46 PDT
Frde - this advice was not here, but on the Yahoo! link.
Subject: Re: Stop father-in-law giving to Nigerian Email Scam
From: frde-ga on 21 Sep 2006 01:54 PDT
Ok, try this.

Visit :

Have a look at the Forum, read it carefully.

If you can get some info from your f-i-l then some people there would
be delighted to use it to confuse the scammers.  However they will
need some copies of the Emails that he has been receiving.

It is not an ideal solution, but it is quite easy to get a 419 scammer
to reveal their true colours, and there is an outside chance that your
f-i-l will see the light.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy