February 16, 2016 4:10 pm

Nigeria’s stranded astronaut email scam targets ‘most-gullible users’

WATCH: Phishing scams continue to reel in new victims


A space-variant of the Nigerian prince email scam is trending on social media.

You may have received an email from Dr. Bakare Tunde.

He claims he needs your help to raise US$3 million to access his cousin’s US$15-million trust fund in order to bring that cousin, Nigerian Air Force Major and the first African astronaut, Abacha Tunde, home from space.

The email claims Abacha Tunde has been stranded on a space station of the former Soviet Union, Salyut 8T, since 1989.

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The email says he was scheduled to return from a secret joint-Soviet space mission but his spot on a return flight was replaced with cargo.

With the Soviet Union’s collapse, there were no plans to bring him back.

Since then, Abacha Tunde is said to have survived on regular supply drops from Progress; a disposable unmanned Russian spacecraft.

In the email, Bakare Tunde says he wants to use the trust fund to pay the Russian space agency to bring Abacha home.

In return, you are promised your money back and a portion of the trust fund – as much as US$600,000.

The story, like previous Nigerian email scams, is fake.

Nigeria does have a space agency but it was established in 2001.

Nigeria has ambitions to send an astronaut into space but has fallen short of its goal to send one by 2015.

MORE: How to avoid email phishing scams

This is an email scam that offers users a large sum of money in return for a small up-front payment.

Business Insider reports that these types of scams target the most gullible users who can’t recognize its illegitimacy.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre says Canadians should be suspicious of any offer that appears to be too good to be true.

The Centre also warns Canadians not to give personal or financial information to anyone requesting it.

Some email scams aren’t as outrageous and are designed to appear as an authentic message from a government or banking institution aimed to trick users to send them their personal information.

MORE: Tax season brings tax scam, warns CRA

Government agencies — like the Canadian Revenue Agency — say they do not ask for immediate payment, request personal or financial information by phone or email and will not set up an in-person meeting in a public place to take a payment.

If you’ve received suspicious emails you can report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. The RCMP has detailed information on what you should do if you are a victim of fraud or if you unwittingly provided personal or financial information (identity fraud).

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