419 or Advance Fee Fraud
419, 4-1-9, or Advance Fee Fraud Schemes
What is 419, 4-1-9, or Advance Fee Fraud?
An Advance Fee Fraud Scheme is the name given to a fraudulent means of obtaining money. It is designed to play on various emotions, like sympathy, empathy, or to appeal to moral instincts.
As well as appealing to the emotions, the scam is designed in such a way that the person being scammed is led to believe that they are in a no-lose situation where they themselves, will make a great deal of money. Too tempting for some.
Why 419 or 4-1-9?
The scheme, which originated in Nigeria, is known internationally as '419' after the section of the Nigerian penal code which deals with this particular type of fraud scheme.
How an Advance Fee Fraud Scheme Works
The first step in the scam is contact. This is done by snail-mail, email, or even via a Personal Message (PM) on a message board forum.
The Message from the Fraudsters
The message varies, but the general theme is that someone who used to be in a position of authority in a country (Nigeria, Congo, Rwanda, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Ghana, the Philippines, Egypt, Kuwait, etc, etc, etc); because of some form of civil unrest or persecution, 'Government forces' are putting their lives in serious jeopardy.
They have, however, huge quantities of money stashed away in various bank accounts which is theirs, or they can get their hands on, but because of the unrest / persecution they are unable to get the money out of the country. The sums involved range anywhere from $4 million to $50 million.
Alternative versions of the scam involve unclaimed wills, fund transfers and oil.
The Punch line
They have contacted you because someone they know of, knows someone who has recommended you, or is just 'taking a risk' ... can you help them get the money out of the country?
There are however, some problems ... firstly, because they are in fear of their lives, they have to work through middlemen. Secondly, they are unable to get to their bank account and therefore do not have any funds. Thirdly, they need to help grease the palms of some corrupt officials in order to get their money out of the country ... can you help? It is only a small loan that is needed ...
If you will help them set up the deal from your end of the world, and will forward them a 'small loan', they will give you a large percentage of the 'millions of dollars' when they get it out of their country into your bank account.
Initially, the victim, or 'mark', will probably be asked for a relatively small amount of money to 'get things going'. After a while, there will be a 'problem', usually describing some 'official' who is insisting on more money to provide the required 'official stamps'. Can the victim send more money to help?
This state of affairs continues for as long as the hapless victim of the scam will send money, with varying problems arising which all need 'more money' to resolve.
Eventually, the victim realises something is amiss but usually not before parting with substantial sums of money. The scammer disappears with the cash and the victim is added to the statistics.