The Nigerian dating scams target the lonely and vulnerable.
The most common comment of victims who think they have found the love of their life is "I can't believe I was so stupid!
They are often told to keep some of the money for their trouble [which helps to build trust and also helps make them an accessory to the crime! After a few weeks the bank will advise the Money Orders are fraudulent and then the victim is responsible for paying the money back to the bank, and in some cases face charges of passing counterfeit instrument.
Sometimes the scammer purchases goods with stolen credit cards but have trouble getting them delivered as many US merchants are now wary of shipping to Nigeria.
The scammers spend their day trolling the dating sites and chat rooms for contact emails, and then send off thousands of fraudulent letters and emails awaiting the victim's replies.
They also lurk in chat rooms and social networking sites as well as Christian and other religious-based dating sites.
They then spend months chatting up and luring their naive targets with online intimacy.
They often pretend to be foreign specialists [from the US, UK or Canada, but can be any European country]temporarily working in Nigeria or other African country.
A slight twist is is when the scammer pretends to live in the same country as the victim, and once a relationship has developed, then advise they are required to go to a west African country on an assignment.