4-1-9 Scams and Advance Fee Fraud

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419 Scams and Advance Fee Fraud

419 Scams and Advance Fee Fraud

A popular scam email for several years has been one guaranteeing that the recipient will receive tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars as payment for helping the sender — usually from Nigeria or another African country — transfer funds into an American bank. These emails are part of a larger fraudulent scheme known as a "419" or "Nigeria" scam (, so named because section 419 of Nigeria's criminal code addresses this type of activity). Both individuals and businesses have received emails or faxes, and many desperate people have fallen prey to the false promises offered by the senders. If you have been involved in a 419 scam, consult with an attorney from Hertz Schram PC in Bloomfield Hills, MI, who is experienced in the area of Internet crime.

How Does a 419 Scam Work?

This scam begins with an unsolicited message from a sender unknown to the recipient who claims to have gotten the recipient's email address by chance or on the recommendation of an unnamed mutual acquaintance. The sender reveals that he is a family member, friend or advisor to a former government official, member of the royal family or entrepreneur who has either now passed away or been forced into hiding. Oftentimes there are mentions of the political unrest characteristic of the region for decades. One thing is made clear, however: the sender is desperate for the recipient's assistance.

The sender goes on to say that before his very important relative or friend died or went into exile, a large sum of money was deposited into a Nigerian bank. The amount of money varies, with some emails saying it was upwards of $1 million, and others claiming tens of millions. The sender next states that he or she is unable to get the money out of the country without assistance, and that he will pay handsomely for the recipient's help by offering a sizable portion of the money in exchange. The sender requests that the recipient provide him with bank account information or even letterhead from the business if it was sent to a commercial email address.

Sometimes, the fraud ends at this stage with the sender emptying the very same bank account that the victim had just provided.

The 419 Scam Intensifies

Should the fraud persist, the victim might receive forged yet official-appearing documents to supposedly facilitate the transfer of the money. Along the way, the victim could receive follow-up communications from the sender conveying one or more complications that will require that the victim actually pay money to the sender to cover costs such as bribing government officials to let the sender complete the transfer, or to pay bank fees or administrative expenses. Of course, there are no such expenses, and the sender is perpetrating the scam to bilk the victim out of more money.

At this point, if the sender thinks that he has exhausted the victim's funds, he might move on to a new target. Alternatively, he could ramp up his efforts to get additional compensation from the victim by actually asking the victim to come to Nigeria or to a nearby country to finalize the money transfer. The problem, of course, is that no such transfer will take place. Victims are either financially drained dry, kidnapped, assaulted, duped (sometimes being forced to buy a costly "money-cleaning solution" that will reveal hidden wealth in what seems to be just a suitcase of black paper), or, in the worst case scenario, killed.

Put an End to the Scam

To some, these 419 scams appear obviously suspect, but many people have fallen prey to them, having been being lured in by the possibility of "easy" money. Sometimes it is difficult to prosecute these cases because victims are ashamed of their gullibility and refuse to come forward. If you have been affected by a 419 scam, speak with an attorney from Hertz Schram PC in Bloomfield Hills, MI.

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