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Nigerian 419 Scams

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NigeriaOne of the oldest scams is the book is the advance-fee fraud, more commonly known as Nigerian 419 scam after its huge use by Nigerians in the last decade or so (419 is the part of the Nigerian Criminal Code that covers this frime). It’s really a variation of the very old school Spanish Prisoner scam but the idea basic idea is the same – someone needs help and they’re willing to pay you a large sum of money, as long as you front a bit of the cost beforehand.

The old school Spanish Prisoner scam dates back to the 1800′s where a con man convinces the sucker that there’s a very wealthy prisoner locked up in a Spanish jail. The wealthy prisoner is locked up under a false identity and can’t communicate directly with the sucker, he has to go through the intermediary (con man). If the sucker has some money to help free the wealthy prisoner, the prisoner will gladly repay him and then some. If the sucker ponies up some cash, there are often other hitches and require more money, until the sucker realizes he’s been taken.

As you can see, the Nigerian 419 scam is not much different. Someone needs help moving a very large amount of money out of the country and you can get a small part of that by helping out. It all involves you paying them, or a third party, a small amount to “release” the funds. If you do, problems will arise and you will have to pay more.

My favorite part of the scam is the fact that scamming the scammers has become a big thing. 419eater.com is the most prominent of the scambaiting sites where marks turn the tables on the scammers. I’ve seen marks get the scammers to make wood carvings, send photos with fishes on their head (a play on the term phishing), and other ludicrous things.

As is anything that preys on people’s greed, or desperation, use your own fraud detector to ferret out these scams. Why does a Nigerian prince, or any prince, want to send you money? How did they get your email? Was it addressed to you or did it come with no name at all?

Above all, don’t ever send anyone money on the internet in order to get money back! You’re not getting it back… ever!

Do you know anyone who has been taken by a Nigerian 419 scam? Have you successfully convinced someone that it’s a scam and for them not to send any cash?

(Photo: Marxchivist)

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12 Responses to “Nigerian 419 Scams”

  1. cubiclegeoff says:

    It’s sad how many people, even intelligent people, have been caught by this scam. But I like scamming them back (I’ve never heard of 419eater.com, so that’s awesome). I always wanted to go at them for fun, but never could think of anything good.

  2. tom says:

    There was a hilarious Dateline expose on these guys where they even wired them a few hundred to get them to meet somewhere in Europe. Then they pulled out the cameras and the guys sprinted off!

    • Master Allan says:

      They really flew to Europe? If they were smart scammers there would be problems and delays. Need more for airport departure fee, need money for taxi, airplane broke down send me money for loan to airline to repair plane.

  3. poscogrubb says:

    I browsed through 419eater.com several years ago and had a very good, long laugh. If I remember correctly, one mark actually got the scammer to send him U.S. CASH.

  4. billsnider says:

    I just ignore these folks altogether. I don’t want to carelessly ensare myself in anything like this.

    Bill Snider

  5. Wilma says:

    One time I got one of those in the snail mail. You’ve won the European lottery!!!!! Send us $5000 for fees and expenses and you get a million dollars. I sent them a note that said, ” Get the money and take out the fees and expenses of $5000 then send me the rest”. Funny thing is I didn’t get a reply. =)

    • lycans says:

      ahahahahah LOL yeah there was a similar thing in London it was funny apparently said i’ve won a f’ loads of money i relied n never got a reply it was pretty much the same as yours =D

  6. Wilma says:

    Checked out that 419eaters.com and it’s interesting but when you go to the trophy room there are soooooo many pictures of people posing with signs that say really stupid things I find it hard to believe that the scammers wouldn’t have some one who reads english tell them what that sign says. Did they not contact in english? Are they just as stupid as the ones they’re scamming or is there a whole lot of photo shopping going on? I plan to read further but interesting site.

  7. JH says:

    I’m an active member of 419eater.com and I do scambait in my spare time. It’s lots of fun to cause havoc for these fiends! Just got to make sure you set things up right so you don’t give them any of your real information.

    So far I’ve shut down about half a dozen of the “lads’” bank accounts and a fake bank website. Great feeling of accomplishment!

    It’s cool to hear 419eater mentioned in this blog- I just hopped over here from there and I saw it!

    • Jim says:

      Keep fighting the good fight!

      What’s your favorite one?

      • JH says:

        Favourite? I rather like the “dead political figure investing in your country” as they’re more talkative. Those scams involving winning a lottery or somesutch are usually more terse and “business like”. Not a fan of the “love lads” as Servelan is mentioning. “Hitlads” are fun, but I’ve never had one- they’re rare. Basically, they tell you they’re going to kill you unless you pay them, or something like that.

        I’d say my best experience so far is having extremely frustrated one lad because my “character” doesn’t speak or type very good english, and he isn’t that smart… It’s still going on, but my best part so far is having put my wire transfer receipt (which I pretended to have) and passport in my “scanner” (Microwave) and complain that it caught fire and the fumes killed my dog. Then I sent him a picture of my microwave and asked for his technical support.

        He’s still trying to get money out of me. :)

  8. Servelan says:

    I always get the ones preying on my sympathy…’dear beloved, my husband died and left me all this money, and I can’t get to it because of unrest in the country and my children and I desperately need your help’.

    Rather have the Spanish Prisoner than all the maudlin stuff.

    I have a small business and regularly get ‘we’d like to make an order’ e-mails from people in foreign countries asking for a catalog and the like [I'm still in the process of getting my website ready to sell online so there's nothing there], and I’ve taken to telling them ‘we only take gold, plus 25% for shipping overseas, payable in advance and our minimum order is $10,000′. Darned if I didn’t get a response to my e-mail stating that, though!


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