Nigerian scams come in many different forms, like fake buyers for your merchandise on Craigslist, non-existent secret shopper jobs, and fake rental properties like the rip-off described in the video at the top of this article.
The catch in all of these scams is that you're somehow tricked into wiring money to the scammer or giving it via a pre-paid card like Green Dot. When the scammer is buying something from you, he'll send you a cashier's check for more than the amount you're asking. He'll tell you to cash the check and wire the excess amount to his "shipper," who will pick up the goods. In reality, he doesn't want what you're selling. No one will come, the check will be returned as fake, and you'll be out the money.
In rental scams, you're told that the home owner is living in Africa and that's why he's renting out the property. Just wire a deposit and you'll get the keys. Of course, they never show up, and the real homeowner knows nothing about the transaction.
The secret shopper scam involves a fake job offer. You receive a check in the mail with instructions to keep a small part of the money and wire the rest to a designated person as an assignment to evaluate Western Union's services. Of course, the check is fake, and you're left owing your bank.
Those scams are bad enough, but if you fall for them, you're also at risk for identity theft. Often the scammer finds a way to get your drivers license and other sensitive information. For example, he'll make you fill out an application for the phony secret shopper job and require you to send a copy of your license. Now he has your Social Security number and a wealth of other data.
The same thing happens with fake rental properties. Once again, you're made to fill out an application with your Social Security number, bank account information, and other data that leaves you vulnerable to identity theft, and of course he wants your drivers license and maybe a copy of your passport, too.
Now the scammer will assume your identity when pulling off other scams. He'll use your name, and if someone questions him, he'll send them a copy of the license and passport that you sent to him. He may also dip into your bank account or open credit cards in your name.
If you've been victimized by a scammer, put fraud alerts on your credit reports, change your bank accounts, and periodically search your name in Google. Scam victims often post reports, so if someone is impersonating you, that will help you find out. Unfortunately, making the scammer stop is virtually impossible because he's in another country isn't worried about American laws.