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.
Edward Maurice “Ed” Mezvinsky (born January 17, 1937) is an American former politician and congressman. A Democrat, he represented Iowa’s 1st congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives for two terms (1973–77).
Mezvinsky grew up in Ames, Iowa, and played high school football there. He received his law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law (1965). After being elected to the Iowa Legislature (1968), he lost a race for Congress in 1970, then won in 1972. He made several unsuccessful U.S. Senate attempts in the 1980s.
In 2001, he was convicted of 31 charges of felony fraud, and served five years in federal prison.
Beginning in the early 1990s, Mezvinsky used a wide variety of 419 scams. According to a federal prosecutor, Mezvinsky conned using “just about every different kind of African-based scam we’ve ever seen.” The scams promise that the victim will receive large profits, but first a small down payment is required. To raise the funds needed to front the money for the fraudulent investment schemes he was being offered, Mezvinsky tapped his network of former political contacts and dropping the name of the Clinton family to convince unwitting marks to give him money.
In March 2001, Mezvinsky was indicted and later pleaded guilty to 31 of 69 felony charges of bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud. Nearly $10 million was involved in the crimes. Shortly after his indictment, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but the judge at his trial disallowed a mental illness defense. He served his time at Federal Prison Camp, Eglin. Mezvinsky, Federal Bureau of Prisons # 55040-066, was released in April 2008. He remained on federal probation until 2011, and as of 2010 still owed $9.4 million in restitution to his victims.