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Spam mail - 'Nigerian fraud 419'

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Nigerian certificates
How does it work?
The prospective victim (you?) - is offered a substantial amount of money, between a few millions and, in one case U$D 150,000,000. These funds are (supposedly) obtained from a variety of sources - accounting errors, heritages, contracts, dead functionaries, even - seriously - from robberies... All invented, of course.

The innocent victim (the e-mail recipient), is convinved that he has been selected as the only person in the worlds reliable enough to help out, and is offered a reward of 10 to 30% of the amount, simply for the permission to use his/hers account to transfer the money.

Of course, it's not that easy: before actually getting the transfer some last-minute expenses arrise (minimal, of course). The victim is asked to pay smallish (between 5,000 and 50,000 dollars generally) amount for differente reasons: payoffs, lawyer expenses, bribes, airplane tickets etc. Such insignificant amounts compared with the millions to come...

The fraud
Once paid, either nothing is heard ever gain from the the promised treasure, or the perpetrator actually tries to get even more money out of the victim. It's surprising how many people actually continue paying... In some cases, even appointments are made between both parties to meet personally, or to realize payments at banks. The preferences seem to be banks in Holland or Great Britain - London.

The great majority of these scams seem to originate really from Nigeria, even though they pretend to come from other origens such as Philipines, Congo, Zimbabwe and others. In some cases, it has been shown that the mails have been sent from the United States or Great Britain.

The volume of the fraud is staggering: The US Secret Service estimates a yearly loss of over 100 million dollars to this kind of scam, and opened a local branch in Lagos, Nigeria to combat the crime. Great Britain estimates 13 million dollars of loss, yearly. Some organizations estimate this scam to be Nigeria's second source of national income!

The number 419 originates from the Nigerian penal code articles prohibiting this fraud (requesting funds under false pretext).

As always - Never click on any of the links in this kind of mails, never answer them, even to complain - they are always looking for people who read their mail! Of course - never tell them you credit card number, telephone or fax number (yes they really call you!), etc...

More information on the Nigerian 419 fraud

A very interesting site
Shows a long list of scam messages. And - very entertaining - it shows stories of people that contacted the scammers, knowing what they were doing, and were able to keep them on a line for a time, and in one case, even extracted moeny from one of them!

internet-fraud.com
This site is dedicated to receiving reports on all kinds of internet fraud, the Nigerian variant being the most frequent one.

A case of extreme patience and tactics
Michael Kay - the author - locked on with the scammer and had a very long discussion with him. He even received a lot of - fake - documents trying to establish the veracity of the deal, even passport and IDs

Internet Fraud Complaint Center - FBI
Internet Fraud reporting center of the FBI in the US. This is am official source of information, and very useful. The FBI received during 2002, a mean of 6355 reports of internet fraud, monthly!

Federal Trade Comission
This comission received reports of fraud, is mainly for cases where the perpetrator resides in the U.S.

Spam-cop
Spam-cop sends - for free and anonymously - a complaint to the operator of the system where the spam originated. It will also relay the answer back.

Nigerian Fraud Email Gallery
A list of more than 400 Nigerian spam letters. Lawrence Kerstenbaum, the page author, received so many of these mails because of his other activities (politicalgraveyard.com), that he decided to dedicate a special page to it. Lawrence authorized me to use part of his information

Public forum on nigerian fraud
A public discussion list (and anonymous), with many examples and experiences

Article from ABC
Article describing the history and actuality of this scam.

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