I receive e-mails on a daily basis from Nigeria (as you likely do too) requesting that I assist in some sort of financial transaction. It is the well-documented 419 scam, where I put up money on the promise of receiving a larger (but fictional) payoff, only to lose my initial investment. Most people recognize this as a scam.
But I’ve started receiving a few e-mails a month requesting Bibles. My first thought was to try to help, but when I noticed these e-mails were coming from Nigeria as well, I did a little bit of research. As it happens, these con artists are now obtaining Bibles fraudulently from well-meaning Westerners, in order to sell them for a profit.
According to a website I recently found, called Nigerian Bible Scammers:
“The Nigerian Bible Scammers (NBSers) mine the internet, searching for any ministry that offers free Bibles and Christian materials. They then send off letters or email requests to these unsuspecting ministries, soliciting whatever items they can get, including cash donations via Western Union if possible. They often but not always use aliases. To accompany each of their newly invented names, NBSers produce an awe-inspiring Christian life history filled with sorrowful, sympathy-drawing events. Nevertheless, they keep a stiff upper lip, projecting an image of a steadfast faithfulness to God and a hunger to win lost sinners to Christ in most of their correspondence. They come across as very friendly, and in order to appear sincere, they can and do quote the Bible as well as any knowledgeable Christian. Frequently, they will give you an imaginary church name run by a nonexistent pastor as their place of fellowship, usually providing a box number in a West African city (the most popular being Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria — a virtual rat’s nest of criminals) for you to send Bibles and other materials to.”
This fraud provides them with,
“[…] thousands of free Bibles they receive that they can then sell for an outstanding profit on the black market, giving them more cashflow to help finance their other illegal activities, and as Mr. Okoronkwo intimates, destroying the legitimate Christian bookseller in the process.”
You can read the full report here. It bears repeating that we should be cautious with anyone who initiates contact with us, our churches, or our ministries over the Internet.
“But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (II Corinthians 4:2).