How the 419 Scam Works



  1. An individual or company receives an email from an alleged “official” representing a foreign government or agency-more often from Nigeria or any other African nation

  2. An offer is made to transfer millions of dollars in “over-invoiced contract” funds into your personal bank account

  3. You are encouraged to travel overseas to complete the transaction 

  4. You are requested to provide blank company letterhead forms, banking account information, telephone, fax numbers 

  5. You receive numerous documents with official looking stamps, seals and logo testifying to the authenticity of the proposal 

  6. Eventually you must provide up-front or advance fees for various taxes, attorney fees, transaction fees or bribes

  7. 7. Finally, you have to travel to Nigeria-either directly or via a bordering country-to meet Nigerian government ‘officials’

  8. Fake documents are made by the perpetrators to smuggle you into Nigeria

  9. Once there, you have no option but to ‘cooperate’ by paying money or ransom

Common variations on this scam include “overinvoiced” or “double invoiced” oil or other supply and service contracts where “some officials” are trying to get the funds out of Nigeria; crude oil and other commodity deals; a “bequest” left you in a will; “money cleaning” where the perpetrator has a lot of currency that needs to be “chemically cleaned” before it can be used and he needs the cost of the chemicals; “spoof banks” where there is supposedly money in your name already on deposit; and “paying” for a purchase with a check larger than the amount required and asking for change to be advanced. Or the victim will just be stiffed on a legitimate goods or services contract…the variations are very creative and virtually endless.

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