419 scam (Advance-fee scam)

An advance-fee scam is a type of fraud and one of the most common types of confidence trick. The scam typically involves promising the victim a significant share of a large sum of money, in return for a small up-front payment, which the fraudster requires in order to obtain the large sum. If a victim makes the payment, the fraudster either invents a series of further fees for the victim, or simply disappears.

There are many variations on this type of scam, including 419 scam, Fifo’s fraud, Spanish Prisoner scam, the black money scam and the Detroit-Buffalo scam.The scam has been used with fax and traditional mail, and is now prevalent in online communications like emails.

Online versions of the scam originate primarily in the United States, the United Kingdom and Nigeria, with Ivory Coast, Togo, South Africa, the Netherlands, and Spain also having high incidences of such fraud. The scam messages often claim to originate in Nigeria, but usually this is not true. The number “419” refers to the section of the Nigerian Criminal Code dealing with fraud, the charges and penalties for offenders.

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