OMG do you believe this?
Besides her work as a registered nurse, Spears – no relation to the well-known pop star – also teaches CPR and is a reverend who has married many couples. She also communicates with lightning-fast sign language with her hearing-impaired husband.
So how did this otherwise lucid, intelligent woman end up sending nearly half a million dollars to a bunch of con artists running what has to be one of the best-known Internet scams in the world?
Spears fell victim to the "Nigerian scam," which is familiar to almost anyone who has ever had an e-mail account.
The e-mail pitch is familiar to most people by now: a long-lost relative or desperate government official in a war-torn country needs to shuffle some funds around, say $10 million or $20 million, and if you could just help them out for a bit, you get to keep 10 (or 20 or 30) percent for your trouble.
All you need to do is send X-amount of dollars to pay some fees and all that cash will suddenly land in your checking account, putting you on Easy Street. By the way, please send the funds though an untraceable wire service.
By this time, not many people will fall for such an outrageous pitch, and the scam is very well-known. But it persists, and for a reason: every now and then, it works.
Spears received just such an e-mail, promising her that she’d get $20.5 million if she would only help out a long-lost relative – identified in the e-mail as J.B. Spears – with a little money up front. "That's what got me to believe it," Spears said.
It turned out to be a lot of money up front, but it started with just $100.