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An email subject line may say something like "From the desk of barrister [Name]", "Your assistance is needed", and so on.
The details vary, but the usual story is that a person, often a government or bank employee, knows of a large amount of unclaimed money or gold which he cannot access directly, usually because he has no right to it.
If a victim makes the payment, the fraudster either invents a series of further fees for the victim, or simply disappears.
While Nigeria is most often the nation referred to in these scams, they originate in other nations as well.
For example, in 2006, 61% of Internet criminals were traced to locations in the United States, while 16% were traced to the United Kingdom and 6% to locations in Nigeria.