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Once the bait is taken, the renter asks for a return of some of the money — or, at times, all of it, claiming a promised visa from the U. Seduction for money An even more insidious version involves Internet seduction.Scam artists lurk in chat rooms with names like "40 and single," or "Recently dumped." They reach out to a lonely woman, send flowers or candy, purchased with a stolen credit card.

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"And love on the Internet is blind." Con artists from Nigeria consumers and merchants.

Special services allow the deaf to use Web pages to connect with specially trained operators, who place telephone calls on their behalf and act as translators.

He's been working Nigerian scams for the Internet Fraud Complaint Center for years; in January, he went to Nigeria to testify against suspects after a rare arrest.

There are now so many flavors of Nigerian scams, they are harder and harder to recognize, he said. "And Americans are very gullible." There are plenty of variations on the traditional scam. In 2001, instead of a Nigerian barrister, the missing money belonged to an Iraqi national, persecuted under Saddam Hussein.

Some fall for the ploy, and find themselves shipping Bibles or wedding dresses to Nigeria, anything that can be sold for a small profit.