What Is a Nigerian Scam?
A Nigerian scam, also known as advance fee fraud or 419 fraud, is a scheme in which a sender requests help in facilitating the transfer of a sum of money, generally in the form of an email. In return, the sender offers a commission—a large amount, sometimes up to several million dollars depending on the perceived gullibility of the target. The scammers then request that money be sent to pay for some of the costs associated with the transfer. If money is sent to the scammers, they will either disappear immediately or try to get more money with claims of continued problems with the transfer.
- Nigerian scams are a scheme, generally done via email, where a sender offers a commission to someone to help transfer a sum of money.
- Nigerian scammers hope that the commission offered will be enticing enough to compel the recipient to take the risk of sending thousands of dollars to a stranger.
- The reasons given for the transfer can differ from a government freezing an account to the existence of an account with no beneficial owner.
- Nigerian scams are also known as advance fee fraud or 419 fraud.
- This scam gets its name from the prevalence it saw in Nigeria during the 1990s.
How a Nigerian Scam Works
This specific type of scam is generally referred to as the Nigerian scam because of its prevalence in the country, particularly during the 1990s. There is also a section of the Nigerian Criminal Code Section 419 that makes this type of fraud illegal. However, this scam is not limited to Nigeria and is also perpetrated by many organizations in many different countries around the world.
The origins of this scam are widely debated with some suggesting it started in Nigeria during the 1970s, while others suggest its origins going back hundreds of years to other confidence scams such as the Spanish Prisoner scam.
The Nigerian scam was initially conducted over the phone, fax, and traditional mail. The proliferation of email has given new rise to the Nigeran scam. Warning signs of a Nigerian scam include a U.S. currency account in a foreign country, odd spelling, and language in the body of the email and a promise of substantial compensation for little effort.
Requirements for a Nigerian Scam
Nigerian scammers hope that the commission offered will be enticing enough to compel the recipient to take the risk of sending thousands of dollars to a stranger. The reasons given for the transfer can differ from a government freezing an account to the existence of an account with no beneficial owner.
When it comes to this type of request, however, it is important to remember that if anything sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Nigerian scams continue because it only takes a handful of people to be easily fooled. Scammers know it's a numbers game. Hundreds of thousands of attempts will ensnare enough suckers over time to make the scammers' time worthwhile.