What are Nigerian 419 Scams, How they Work, Warning Signs and How to Protect Yourself?

Nigerian scams involve offering you a share in a so-called large sum of money on the condition you help them to transfer it out of their country. The scammer may contact you via email, letter, text message or social networking message. They will offer you a large sum of money to help them transfer their so-called personal fortune out of their country. These scams are often known as 'Nigerian 419' scams because the first wave of them came from Nigeria. The '419' part of the name comes from the section of Nigeria’s Criminal Code which outlaws the practice. These scams now come from anywhere in the world.

What are Nigerian 419 Scams, How they Work, Warning Signs and How to Protect Yourself?

How the Scam Works

The scammer will tell you an elaborate fake story about large amounts of money 'trapped' in central banks during civil wars or coups, often in countries currently in the news. Or they may tell you about a large inheritance that is 'difficult to access' because of government restrictions or taxes in their country.

The scammer may contact you by email, letter, text message or social networking message. They will offer you a large sum of money to help them transfer their personal fortune out of their country.

These scams are often known as 'Nigerian 419' scams because the first wave of them came from Nigeria. The '419' part of the name comes from the section of Nigeria’s Criminal Code which outlaws the practice. These scams now come from anywhere in the world.

Scammers may ask for your bank account details to 'help them transfer the money' and use this information to later steal your funds.

Or they may ask you to pay fees, charges or taxes to 'help release or transfer the money out of the country' through your bank. These fees may even start out as quite small amounts. If paid, the scammer may make up new fees that require payment before you can receive your reward. They will keep asking for more money as long as you are willing to part with it, but you will never be sent the money that was promised.

Warning Signs

  • You receive a contact out of the blue asking you to 'help' someone from another country transfer money out of their country (e.g. Nigeria, Sierra Leone or Iraq).
  • The request includes a long and often sad story about why the money cannot be transferred by the rightful owner.
  • You are offered a financial reward for helping them access their 'trapped' funds. The amount of money to be transferred, and the payment that the scammer promises to you if you help, is usually very large.
  • The writing in the message is in very polite but broken English.
  • The scammer will often ask you to send money via a money transfer service.

How to Protect Yourself

  • Never send money or give credit card details, online account details or copies of personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust and never by email.
  • Avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for up-front payment via money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card or electronic currency. It is rare to recover money sent this way.
  • Do not agree to transfer money for someone else. Money laundering is a criminal offense.
  • Seek independent advice from someone you know and trust if in doubt.
  • Verify the identity of the contact by calling the relevant organization directly – find them through an independent source such as a phone book or online search. Do not use the contact details provided in the message sent to you.
  • Do an internet search using the names or exact wording of the letter/email to check for any references to a scam – many scams can be identified this way.
  • If you think it’s a scam, don't respond — scammers will use a personal touch to play on your emotions to get what they want.
  • Remember there are no get-rich-quick schemes: if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
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Note: Some of the information in samples on this website may have been impersonated or spoofed.
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Comments (Total: 4)

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  • October 18, 2020 at 6:29 PM by info

    "From: "Steve Walker" <stevewalkers111@yahoo.com>

    Sent: Tue, 13 Oct 2020 at 17:51

    Subject: Urgent Attention Needed

    Greetings to you,

    I do foresee the surprise this letter will bring to you as it comes from a stranger, but be assured that it comes with the best of intentions. This is an urgent proposal regards a Fixed Deposit of £6,800,000.00 (Six Million Eight Hundred Thousand British Pounds) deposited in a finance house by late Engineer ROBERT.M. With the finance house where the fund was deposited by my deceased client giving me a deadline to the end of their organization's financial year ending before they claim the deposit, I seek your consent to present you as the sole beneficiary of the deceased for future claim of the said fund. Email me at (stevewalkers111@gmail.com) with your Full names, Age, country and Direct telephone number only to enable me furnish you with adequate information in regards this claim.

    Very Truly,Yours

    Barrister Steven Peter Walker"

    Here is another scam.

  • August 11, 2019 at 9:19 AM by info

    "Scammers using 01lindalowe@gmail.com found me on Facebook and she texted on messenger them to Whatsapp and went on and on trying to get me to open an account at a bank so she could move money around to get herself out of trouble.

    It was the most outrageous and very believable story except for the Embassy is in foreign countries to help people like her and she refused their help but insisted on believing in the plan. Then my Facebook account ubetibuiltit@gmail.com was deleted for suspicious activity and you can keep it now anyway, I don't credit card or give personal info over the internet or phone much less anywhere else in today's world.

    So beware of Linda lowe, her alleged phone number 2398157687063 and lindalowe01@gmail.com, in the beginning, she flashed into Facebook then left it just as quick, I searched for her but couldn't find her again. Pictures she sent me included below for verification of if they are in fact stolen or not. I wanted to believe it all sounded, the English used was real good grammatically. Correct and we'll people must be aware."

    Received via email.

  • July 12, 2019 at 9:11 AM by info

    Received this 419 scam:

    "From: "Mrs.Abisilah Odede" <uba002155@gmail.com>

    Date: July 12, 2019 at 8:30:53 AM EDT


    Reply-To: guaranteetrustbankplcgtb@gmail.com






    my name is Mrs. Abisilah Odede the secretary to the Federal Ministry of Finance Republic of Nigerian west Africa to be precise, I hereby to bring to your notice about your immediate payments of$3.8m. your funds $3.8m has being deposited to the Guarantee Trust Bank Plc (GTB) and this deposit was made officially by our seating president Alhaji. Mohamed Buhari with this deposit certificate number,200089748 and he order the said bank to transfer the funds to your account as soon as you contact them.

    during his campaign for his second term in the office of the president then he received a lot of complaint from the international community and united nations as well that a lot of scams has being going on in this country and with this reason he vow that if he assume the office for the second term as president then he is going to deal with the issue of the scammers and pay the people that were involves on it in the pass And your name was found on the list that was submitted to our office recently that your yet to be paid. And through the legal information arrives to us here that most of the scammers are using western union and Money Gram for the scamming activities, telling the innocent people that western union will pay them such big amount of money. We want to let you know today that western union has no right to handle such payments so stop wasting your time with them.

    Your funds $3.8m can only be transfer to your Account online by Guarantee Trust Bank Plc the appointed bank by the federal government to transfer your funds directly to your account once you contact the mwith all your bank details. The funds were available at the bank now and the bank Manager Mr.Abbey Billy has being waiting for you to contact them today for your payments. So contact the Guarantee Trust Bank Immediately you receive this email message and you can also call the Manager on phone and ask him to transfer your funds into your provided account.

    This is the Contact E-mail Address of the GUARANTEE TRUST BANK PLC.(GTB)

    Contact E-mail:(guaranteetrustbankplcgtb@gmail.com)

    Contact Person Mr.Abbey Billy Manager

    Telephone: 234 80-9385-9394

    Please Do not forget to contact the Guarantee Trust Bank Plc with all

    your bank details such as follows

    1. Full Name And Address ..

    2. Your Bank Account Number..

    3.Swift Code Number..

    4. The Bank Name ..

    5. The address of your bank...

    6. Teleph Maone Number:.

    7. Country :.

    8. City:

    Note that the funds were deposited with the Insurance bond and this is the insurance certificate number, 0529, So feel free to contact the directed Bank Immediately,The Guarantee Trust Bank May request the fee of $95.00 from you which will serve as the NON- RESIDENT FEE as you don’t have an account with them according to the Bank Manager. And the $95.00 was the only fee needed on this transaction and as you are contacting them today then ask them where you can send the $95.00 to them to get your funds transferred to your account online immediately.

    Do let me know immediately you receive the funds. God bless you as I wait to hear from you soon.

    Your Faithfully

    Mrs.Abisilah Odede

    From Federal Ministry of Finance"

  • January 14, 2019 at 5:57 AM by an anonymous user from: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

    I think more needs to be publicized about the attack on older, widowed and/or divorced women/men.

    They are being attached by younger Nigerians and it’s escalating.

    I was recently targeted, I fall in the older, widow category.

    I suspected the young guy of 31 to b a scammer when he immediately started about he loved me, wanted me to pay college fees and bringing him to the US.

    In exchange he offered sexual favors and 10-yrs of staying with me.

    I was so appalled I saw every color in the universe.

    I have maintained a log showing the process by which the attempt was made against me, in the hopes I can use it in helping others not fall prey to being scammed.

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What are Nigerian 419 Scams, How they Work, Warning Signs and How to Protect Yourself?