Currently, there are over 200 Scambook reports of people being scammed into sending money to Nigeria.  While they come in different forms, all of the Nigerian Scams, or “419” Scams, result in the same thing: you wire money overseas.  If you’re a regular reader of the Scambook blog, then you know that if anyone online asks you to use Western Union or MoneyGram to wire them money, it’s likely a scam.


Long Lost Uncle

The most common 419 scams involve large sums of money that are promised to you but are tied up at the moment.  The scammers might tell you that you have a long-lost uncle that has recently died in Nigeria with over $100,000,000 in his name.  However, your poor uncle did not leave a will.  But, because you are the closest living relative, the money should go to you.  All that needs to be done is for you to pay a small handling fee for customs or for a lawyer or for a bank.

Now, there are a couple questions you should be asking yourself.  First, do you actually have a long-lost uncle?  If you do, are you sure he or she died?  And was it in Nigeria?  And could they really have such a vast fortune without you hearing anything at Thanksgiving from your family?  Second, why is someone e-mailing you about this?  If someone actually left you $100,000,000 you would probably get a phone call, personal visit, or regular mail from an attorney who will want to conduct meetings with you in person.


Things Don’t Add Up

$100,000,000 is a lot of money.  Imagine if someone rang your doorbell claiming to have a lottery ticket for $1,000,000 that you can buy for only $20.  No one with $1,000,000 would offer it to you for so cheap, unless the ticket is a fake.  You can think of the 419 scam in that way too, why would someone who has access to $100,000,000 need a few hundred or a few thousand dollars from you when they could just take it from the money or send you a bill?

The best thing you can do in this situation is to mark it as spam and delete the e-mail as soon as you get it.  Then, go on to and share the scam and research other similar ones.


The 419 Low Down

“419” refers to the Nigerian Criminal Code that deals with frauds, just like these ones.  While not unique to Nigeria, these scams have grown tremendously with e-mail.  They started in the early 1980’s as a way to scam companies interested in oil and were very successful for the scammers.  As international communication became easier with the rise of e-mail, the scammers could now target individuals.  It is now so prevalent in Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, and even Russia, that there are warnings for visitors to those countries to be on the watch for 419 scams.  To learn more about the 419 scam, and its variations, you can look at this thorough Wikipedia article.


How to Stay Safe

The FBI is aware of this type of scam and has some tips on how to avoid 419 fraud.  You can see the entire article here,  Some of the tips they recommend, along with ours, are:

1.     Don’t respond: if you get a letter from someone asking for money, no matter how much they promise to give you in return, don’t respond to it.  Instead, mark it as spam, delete it, or forward it to your local FBI office.

2.     Warn others: tell anyone you know who has received an e-mail like this not to respond.  If you know someone who already is in correspondence with a scammer, tell that person to contact the FBI.

3.     Be guarding: don’t give out your personal information unless it is a trusted website.  It only takes one time for you to become a victim of fraud.  Treat your personal information as a well-guarded secret.

4.     Check only by visiting can you find out the latest scams before they happen to you.  If you have the slightest hesitancy when providing personal information, check to see if anyone else has gone through the same experience.

Stay safe out there.  Don’t let the promise of vast amounts of money trick you into getting scammed.


See Also

Dog For Sale Scam
Government Grants Scams?
Mystery Shopper Scam

About The Author

Scambook is an online complaint resolution platform dedicated to obtaining justice for victims of fraud with unprecedented speed and accuracy. By building communities and providing resources on the latest scams, Scambook arms consumers with the up-to-date information they need to stay on top of emerging schemes. Since its inception, Scambook has resolved over $10 million in reported consumer damages.

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15 Responses

  1. zane fleming

    i was target by a scammer , that took everythang i save up for a bill to pay , but i was a lil slow on the scams , cause they use a bank an a lawyer ,,, from senegal law firm its was a email from a young lady stating she had a will left to her from her late dead father ,,, an the bank contected me about some docoments to send it to my account but thats how a lawyer came apart he need seals from the high court there in so that costed me ,, he;s fees cost me western union fees ,, i was hurt after finding out i was rob ,, from a scam like that , they work as a team ,THE LAWYERS THE BANKS , so a blind eye will get fooled ,, i will sent a proof of a statement of account , ,,,,, SO I Fall for it like a dummy,,, so if there way i will so i need help

    • Tom Smith

      You got to be kidding. You claim to have fallen for some scam, and now you send a letter asking us to help you. Sounds like another scam to me. Try work. WORK. It is what people do daily to earn money

  2. steven gibson

    Yah I got scammed out of 3,800 dollard from some one named david williams. He siad I was working for Check it out it a real Site. They mail your checks and money orders. Tell you to cash them keep 8% for your self and mail them the rest. Western Union, your job title is Agent Collection. Well I got took. The money was sent to being china. To the scammer out their. If your reading this. Send me back my money please.

  3. Gene Brown

    There is a group called 419 Baiters at where they play games with these scammers by seemingly to fall for the scam. What they really do is waste the time of these criminals so these theives have less time to focus on victums. Some of the antics are very funny. Stories are published on the web site. When I retire and have more time I will join this group because it looks like a lot of fun.

    • Tom Smith

      I do it myself. Actually send them back pity emails like I feels sorry for them. One guy actually fell for ie, send me like 10 books of blank checks, told me about his scam and wanted me to work with him and “his people” because I was so smart and he not no the inglish good! I gave it to the Postal Inspector.

      • Nada Conundrum

        Did the Postal Inspector ever get back with you? I gave Postal Inspector 2 “bad” Money Orders, $1,950, I received from a Shadow Shoppers company 2 months ago and he has never gotten back with me.

  4. Betty Gail Brawley

    I think i have been scam by some one in bein repiblic, they are promising to send me 2.5 million for, winnings, and i sent to them 250.00 yeserday and theyare ask i for 600.00 when i get my social secuirty check on thursday, and they will send my 2.5 million, i fyou want tosee the mails ihave them also dipomates ect, ihave those lettes, and Farda wazill she told me the fbi would comeafter me if i di not snd her 300.00 on thursday, so ousee i think they find me and used anabused me, Betty gailbrawley




    Swift Code: BPH KPL PK,
    A/C#: 329606=101244=169=678
    Our Ref: CBN/IRD/CBX/021/04

    Good day Ms. Brown,

    I want you to know that your payment has been accessed and was tabled at the meeting today additional with the one i promised to assist you with which was the sum of $350, but to my greatest surprise the senator refused to accept it. According to the senator, he said the money brought to the meeting was not up to the first installment required for the document.

    He said the total fee must be paid before they can release the document needed for the transfer of you funds to commence and the first installment was $650 which the total money i had on me is the sum of $400 now it is remaining the sum of $150 before the senator can attend to us. I will call you later in the day to explain more better to you.

    Best Regards
    Mr. Tunde Lemo
    Director of Remittance Department
    Central Bank of Nigeria
    Quick Reply
    anybody recieving this tye stuff,make it known?

  7. Tyler Krajicek

    Her name is Sandra Williams, e-mail addres [email protected], she contacted me on zoosk, and eventually we started chatting on yahoo messenger. I had NO IDEA she was bad news, so she asked me for $263 and $610, and I mistakenly sent the money, when I had NO IDEA the the invitation got sent to me on accident, I sent the $873.11, when I thought she was my girlfriend, and I also thought we were going to eventually meet in person within the next few months. A few weeks later, I realized she was a scammer, I totally lost the money on accident, because the invitation got sent to me on accident, Thank God I don’t receive those anymore, I deleted my hotmail account it got sent to because of that. All I can say now, is that I totally learned my lesson, and something like that happen will NOT ever happen again! for eternity, I swear to the holy bible I will NOT ever lose money like that again.

  8. Tyler Krajicek

    She told me her parents died in a car accident, that she was 25 years old, working towards a master’s degree, stuck in Nigeria, needing $263 just to get out, and $610 for food, and $450 for electricity. I did NOT send the $450 for the electricity, I was only scammed twice. I hope nobody else will be scammed by this criminal, as they read this comment.

  9. Divanumberthree

    Recently i recently received an email from someone stating that even though i do not him he wants me to help him with his money because he does not trust people he knows. He wants to leave the rest of his money to me if i help him. I read no further so i can not report him. I jsut deleted his email and let it go but i did not think to report or i would have played along which i will do the next time i receive another phony email.


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