Sweet Home, Oregon. Janella Spears, a registered nurse by trade, fell victim to one of the oldest tricks on the internet by responding to one of the millions of emails that have long since been outed as scams in the press, and on network television in expose' segments. Everyone with an email account by now has surely seen one of these emails promising large sums of money in exchange for "upfront money" to help free or shift funds around by a citizen, long lost relative, or government official in a politically corrupt and war torn nation. You would think that by now it has become so old-hat that such an email would just be discarded without a second thought or maybe a quick read for a laugh at the audacity of such a ploy.
Spears received an email promising her $20.5 million if she would help a long lost relative named J.B.Spears with a little upfront money. "That's what got me to believe it," Spears said. The upfront money of $100 seemed minimal considering the great financial rewards she would reap later.
The scammer responded with official (fake) looking documents and certificates from the Bank of Nigeria, even including documents from the United Nations all claiming that the her payment was "guaranteed."
And as these scammers normally do, the amount of upfront money was increased to $8,300 with a return promised of $26.6 million. Spears complied and sent the money.
Of course this was not the end of the requests for more money. As the scam continued, she received promises of even greater amounts of money, accompanied by more official looking documents which included numerous misspellings, in return for additional funds. The scammers went so far as to include fake letters from the President of Nigeria, FBI Director Mueller, and President Bush. The scammers claimed in the letters that terrorists would get the money if she did not comply by sending additional money. Spears continued sending funds even at her own financial peril which included spending her husband's retirement account funds, mortgaging her (paid off) home and taking a lien on the family car title.
Over more than two year Spears sent tens, then hundreds of thousands of dollars, despite those around her including law enforcement officials, her family, and bank officials telling her to cease as this was surely a scam.
An undercover investigator that worked the case attributed her continued compliance in these requests for money to greed that had blinded Spears to the reality of the situation. The agent went so far as to say this was the worst case like this he had ever seen. He (the agent) said people become so obsessed with trying to reach the end of this process and receive the promised payout in order to dig themselves out the dire financial position they have put themselves into that they descend into a "vicious cycle of sending money in hopes the false promise will turn out to be real"
Finally Spears has gone public with her story in the hope it might educate and warn others of these scams. She estimates it will take several years or more to dig herself out of the debt she incurred in pursuit of this non-existent "pot of Nigerian gold".