The 419 Scam, also known as the “Nigerian Scam,” the “Advanced Fee Fraud,” and “The Nigerian Connection” is a wide spread scheme that has stolen billions of dollars from Americans and other countries around the world.
The rapid spread of the 419 scam is largely due to lack of knowledge on the issue from the general public and the development of the Internet, which allows scammers to reach more victims.
The 419 scam begins with a simple unsolicited fax, email, or letter often from a high ranking official from Nigeria or another African nation. The wealthy official states that he wishes to discreetly transfer millions of dollars of funds into an American or foreign account. The official then claims that this is the only way his government will allow him any access to his money, located in frozen bank accounts in his own nation.
The victim is offered 40 percent of the money transferred if they allow the scammers access to their bank account and are willing to pay some minimal tax and transaction fees.
In the end the arrangement always runs into one sordid complication after another. Once the victim’s information is revealed, he feels compelled to see the transaction through until the end in the hopes that the promised money will eventually be received. Victims are led to believe that they must send money for taxes, additional transactions, and processing fees.
Phony contact numbers for government offices are also offered as a means to reassure the victim. Once all of the victim’s money has been drained from his bank account the contacts disappear and the letters are found to be forgeries. The 419 scam has robbed millions of people around the world of their life’s savings and left them with nothing.