Be wary of anyone who contacts you out of blue with an “opportunity” to make a fortune by helping him or her get money or valuables out of their home country. Many of these schemes originated in Nigeria, where they violate section 419 of the Nigerian criminal code, hence the label “419” or Nigerian fraud.
How the Scam Works:
You get an email from a government official, member of royalty, or a business owner offering a huge sum for help getting money out of their country. They want you to receive a bank transfer or to help in another capacity. Of course, the transfer does not prove to be easy. There are bribes, taxes, and legal fees to be paid. The scammer asks you to front these costs, which are to be repaid as soon as the money is out of the country. Of course, there are no millions.
Traditionally, scammers claimed to be from Nigeria, but con artists can turn on a dime when it comes to changing their cover stories—today a Nigerian prince, tomorrow a wealthy businessman. The script may change, but the ploy is fundamentally the same.
Tips to Spot This Scam:
To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker.
To learn how to protect yourself, go to “10 Steps to Avoid Scams”.
Last Reviewed: March 7, 2017