Nigerian 419 Scams

Nigerian ‘’Advance fee’’ scams have been around for decades. In fact they predate the internet and email. Before the advent of the internet, Nigerian scammers used to use postal services and faxes to send messages to their would-be victims.

The scams are also known as 419 scams after the part of the Nigerian penal code that forbids the practice.

Although many still originate in Nigeria, it is not only Nigeria-based scammers who send the emails. In fact emails also originate from Ghana, Ivory Coast and other west African countries. And Nigerian scammers are also based outside Nigeria in countries like Malaysia and China.

We regularly receive enquiries from internet users who have received Nigerian scam letters and do not know what they are about. There are a great many versions of this scam.

Warning signs

• Out of the blue, you receive an offer to ‘help’ someone from another country transfer their money out of their country (e.g. Ivory Coast, Ghana or Nigeria).

• The offer includes a detailed story of why the money cannot be transferred by the scammer. Oftentimes the scammer will say that the money has come from profits from business, natural resources or an inheritance and the scammer may say they are trying to protect the money from a corrupt government.

• In return for your help, you are offered a percentage of the total amount transferred.

• The amount of money to be transferred, and the payment that the scammer promises to you if you help, is usually very large.

• The email or letter is in very polite, but broken English.

Scam Baiting

As 419 scams continue to wreak havoc and damage across the English-speaking world, some internet vigilantes are responding with a counter tactic known as scam baiting. This involves the person pretending to be interested in the fraudulent scheme in order to manipulate and waste the time and money of the scammer.

What to do

If you receive a message like one mentioned above best is not to answer it.

Secondly do not give details of your bank accounts to anyone.

Also don’t give out details of your company, its line of business, etc.

Do not send any ID documents such as passport and driving license. And do not send official letterheads and logos of your company, even photocopies.

If you are already in contact with the scammers or have already paid advance fees:

Save all the messages you sent to them

Save all messages they sent to you

Save all copies of wire transfers and copies of documents they have sent you

Do not agree to attend meetings where money is promised to be handed over to you. It could be a trap.

Contact us if you wish and you can have a one-on-one consultation with our anti-scam detective via Skype or phone. He can advise you on the best course of action depending on how far you have got in to the fraudulent scheme.