Posted by By The Associated Press on
No one knows for sure which of these dodges, if any, were invented in Nigeria, but fraudsters in the West African nation have made them so famous that they are often called "419 scams," after the clause in the Nigerian penal code that outlaws them.
No one knows for sure which of these dodges, if any, were invented in Nigeria, but fraudsters in the West African nation have made them so famous that they are often called "419 scams," after the clause in the Nigerian penal code that outlaws them. A look at some of the more common ones:
"You don't know me, but I used to be married to a corrupt dictator ..."
Nigerians are most commonly associated with scams featuring purported officials or relatives of dead dictators seeking help in getting millions of dollars out of Nigeria or any other African country. Victims are promised a large chunk of the money supposedly stolen from the state treasury, but first must put up money to show their trustworthiness. Variations include proposals for lucrative oil, construction or procurement contracts purported to have been issued by some state-owned company or government department, all with the object of extracting payments from the victim in the form of taxes, fees and bribes to facilitate the promised payoff.
"You're in luck ..."
Targets are told they have come into some sudden fortune and need only complete a few bureaucratic procedures to claim it. These procedures turn out to be costly. Victims are often churches and charities which are told that a millionaire somewhere has willed them a fortune.
"You Are Our Lucky Winner!"
Millions of e-mails are sent telling recipients they have won millions of dollars (or any hard currency) in an "official Internet lottery." The "winners" are given the name of an agent who will handle upfront "taxes" and other levies.
"Your price is right..."
A scammer contacts someone selling a car or other valuable over the Internet and accepts the advertised price. The scammer sends the seller a check for perhaps twice the amount, then claims to have made a mistake and asks the seller to wire the difference to a bank account in Nigeria or elsewhere. The seller obliges, then discovers the check sent to him is fake.
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