Most of these scams are "advance fee" scams. You have "won" a great prize but in order to collect it you have to pay an advance fee. I baited one of these scammers recently, sending them fake information. They replied saying that they represented a certain bank in England and would send me a bank debit card with which to withdraw my winnings. First, however, I had to send them $300 to set up a bank account. The "fee" was to pay for various charges and taxes.
Of course, if I were dumb enough to send them the money, they would then disappear from sight, leaving me out $300 and no "winnings," which of course, were nonexistent in the first place. If the victim is really dumb, they would then email the "bank" complaining that their debit card has not yet arrived, and be charged another fee for "investigating" the hang-up.
Nigerian style scammers generally use hotmail or gmail email accounts, but sometimes use other types of email accounts. I don't think any of these email accounts are open very long; they are closed and replaced with new ones.
One way that we can fight Nigerian scammers is to publish their email addresses online, where the bots will harvest them. Soon Nigerian scammers will be sending each other scam mail!
For more effective ways to bait these scammers, waste their time and humiliate them, go to 419Eaters.com.
419Eaters lists a number of successful counter-scams wherein the Nigerian scammers were baited and tricked into spending time and money trying to conclude the scam. Fooled, the scammers believed that they are on the verge of realizing the dirty deal and paid for hotel rooms, airline tickets, Fed Ex packages, etc., to lure the "victim" to his final fleecing. In the end, however, the scammers were out time and money, often having their pictures posted online holding funny signs with double-entendre meanings. (In many cases, the scammers held the signs up at international airports as a way to signal the deplaning victim, who as it turns out, was never on the plane in the first place.)
Note: if you bait the scammers, it can be dangerous. Never give out real information about yourself -- not your name, address, phone number or anything else. DON'T use your main email address to bait scammers IF your main email address can be traced to your true identity, address, etc. When in doubt, stay away.
Read "the Letters Archive" at 419Eaters.com for some successful counter-scams against the Nigerian scammers. Be prepared to laugh your ass off!
Nigerian scam email addresses (sent to me personally) -- published here so bots can find them: