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What is the Nigerian Scam 419? (Advance Fee Scam)

Updated: Jun 6, 2022

For those who don't know, the Nigerian Scam 419, or Advance Fee Scam or just 419 Fraud, is a particular type of advance fee fraud that initially originated in Nigeria. Fraudsters target individuals initially per post, but now with the advance of new technologies they have adapted to reach out people by email, telephone, social media.

The scheme normally starts fairly innocuously with an attempt of phishing for contact and information, informing that the person has won a prize or received an inheritance or will assist a charity somewhere.

Fraudsters then request personal information like name, documents, banking info so they can fill out all the forms to "liberate" the funds which "are being held by the bank, prince, bishop" whatever is the character of the elaborate story they use to deceive the person.

Consequences of the scam can be much greater than just financial loss, as people have committed suicide upon finding out that their promised suitcases of money would not be delivered.

In my mom's case, she ran after me with a hammer.

Why it is called 419 Fraud?

The 419 refers to the article of the Nigerian Criminal Code which deals with fraud and makes this type of fraud illegal.

However, while this fraud originated in Nigeria, it has spread out throughout Africa and Americas, and thanks to the internet, there are no borders for their targets.

How does the 419 Fraud work?

What really matters here is how vulnerable is the targeted person.

The scammers reach out to the target, promise millions of dollars to them as long as they help them out to pay a transfer fee or for the Fedex package for the ATM cards which will be sent with millions of dollars.

They ask copies of documents, banking details, and even send certificates attesting they are representatives of this or that bank, just to provide further veracity to the account.

They ask copies of documents, banking details, and even send certificates attesting they are representatives of this or that bank, just to provide further veracity to the account.

As soon as the first payment is made, they now that they found a source of income.

The fees get bigger and bigger, and the money never comes, and that's when hell rain down the earth.

How does that even work? Can't people see that it is a scam?

That's what I have been asking myself for the last twenty years. The problem is that they are smart enough to cover their tracks, adapt to new technologies and aim to the weakest part of the human biology: their greed.

If people are willing to fall for a story of someone they have never met promising that they have won money they have never heard coming from a country they know nothing about, they already know that the person is inherently greedy enough to do anything for millions of dollars.

They will deceive, steal, take loans, and scam other people to get more money in order to finally pay the latest "banking fee" required to liberate the money that they - if they had full control of their mental abilities, they would know they have no right nor claim to it - are about to receive.

If they are elderly and naturally trusting, or like it was in the case of my mother, mentally ill, then their victims become willing participants on the bigger scheme of things. They become ca cows to them, and no amount of screaming, begging or negotiation will stop them of sending all of their money for the scammers.

I know, I tried. Nothing worked.

Further sources for your review:

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