Nigerian 419 Scams

What are Nigerian 419 scams?

Nigerian 419 Scams

A Nigerian scam is a form of upfront payment or money transfer scam. They are called 419 Nigerian scams because the first wave of them came from Nigeria, but they can come from anywhere in the world. The ‘4-1-9’ part of the name comes from the section of Nigeria’s Criminal Code which outlaws the practice.

These scams are also known to be called the Advance Fee Scam. The reason being invariably, the victim is requested to make a payment in advance in order to process the release of the funds from the foreign country/bank.

The scammers usually contact you by email or letter and offer you a share in a large sum of money that they want to transfer out of their country. They may tell you about money trapped in central banks during civil wars or coups, often in countries currently in the news.

Or they may tell you about massive inheritances that are difficult to access because of government restrictions or taxes in the scammer’s country.

Scammers ask you to pay money or give them your bank account details to help them transfer the money. You are then asked to pay fees, charges or taxes to help release or transfer the money out of the country through your bank. These ‘fees’ may even start out as quite small amounts.

If paid, the scammer will make up new fees that require payment before you can receive your supposed ‘reward’. They will keep making up these excuses until they think they have got all the money they can get out of you. You will never receive the money that was promised.

Banks all over the world are targeted not only by phishers, but 419 scammers have also spotted the potential for drawing in victims using the name and details of well-known banks.

The scam usually involves an account that has become dormant, due to its (non-existent) owner having died. The “scammers” mission, should they accept it, is to pretend to be a relative of the account holder and claim the money.

Warning signs

You receive an offer out of the blue to ‘help’ someone from a foreign country to transfer money out of their country.

The offer sets out a long and often sad story about why the money cannot be transferred by the scammer. This usually involves an inheritance or profits from natural resources that the scammer might say they are trying to protect from taxes or a corrupt government.

You are offered a percentage of the total amount transferred in return for your assistance. 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 a very polite tone, but often in broken English.

How to protect yourself from Nigerian 419 scams

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Remember there are no get-rich-quick schemes, the only people who make money are the scammers. Do not let anyone pressurise you into making decisions about money or investments: always get independent financial and/or legal advice.

Do not open suspicious or unsolicited email (spam) – delete them.

Never reply to a spam email (even to unsubscribe).

Never send your personal, credit card or online account details through an email.

Money laundering is a criminal offence: Do not agree to transfer money for someone else. Don’t let the fact that a letter sounds enticing or genuine trick you.

If you still think the letter may be genuine, make sure you seek the advice of an independent Professional (lawyer, accountant or financial planner) before committing any money.

Should you wish to read up more on these scams and have access to the internet, you can search the websites of “Advance Fee” or “419 scams”.

(Originally published by Standard Bank – S.A. So be aware!)

And they don’t spare anybody..!

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3 thoughts on “Nigerian 419 Scams”

  1. Speaking of the Devil. Just received this one today via email…

    Dear Beloved,
    I am sending you this email in good faith I am Mariam Johnson now undergoing medical treatment for cancer. I was married to Mr. Peter Johnson who worked with South Africa embassy in Malaysia for many years before his death in 2008, we both made a deposit of some amount of money worth $9.5M in a safe deposit box with a finance institution in England.Recently, my Doctor told me that I have few months to live due to my illness. Having known my condition I have decided to donate this fund to you so that you can use the money for humanitarian in your Country to help the less privilege while the rest goes to you and your family. With the help of my lawyer my doctor will issue you a Letter of Authority from the Court making you the Beneficiary of the deposit. Kindly indicate your interest in for details.
    In His Arms.
    Mrs. Mariam Johnson.

    This is the kind of scams to be on the lookout for…

  2. Then, replying that I am for sure very interested in their scam received the following:

    Please contact Doctor Williams

    Mrs. Mariam Johnson []

    Dear Beloved
    I have received your email and i must first of all show my appreciation over the fact that you have given heed to the entreaty of a dying woman.

    I assure you that this is not a worldly thing; I beckon on you to make use of these funds to the glory of God.

    It would be required of you to furnish my doctor with the following details

    Those details will enable me put a letter to the security company making you the eligible beneficiary to the funds with them. Do also forward this information to me as well,

    Details Of My Doctor
    Name: Doctor Don Williams
    Email: [] []

    Due to my poor health, i will instruct him to help me process a letter of Authority in your name. Once this is done, you shall make arrangements with the security company on how the funds would be transferred to your location. I strongly advice that you deal with my doctor directly as i have given him power of attorney to act on my behalf as i could no long spend much time in the net. Once you are in contact with my doctor he will furbish you with every details you need to know.

    I beg of you to deal with me honestly and render me your assistance to the fullest of your capacity as you would be helping a dying woman. Most importantly you would be touching the lives of a huge number of people in your country. I hope i would be able to count on you while i wait impatiently for the time to come. My bones are slowly cleaving to my skin.

    I hope to hear from you as soon as possible.
    Warmest Regards,
    Mrs. Mariam Johnson

    (This seems like an automated system because my reply was misinterpreted…)



  3. Still no end to this scam… Can’t believe there are so many people with money they cannot get their hands on and needs help! Just wondering if their are still people falling into these traps?

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