What is a 419 scam?
419 Scam or frauds are widely used, mainly from West African countries against all Europeans, as well as the US, Australia and Asian countries. Promises of a huge gain, but with a few preliminary fees (phishing and scams).
“419 Frauds” are a collection of typical scams, scams and frauds, collectively named as such in reference to section 4-1-9 of the Penal Code of Nigeria which was the first country to prosecute them legally. This is “Expected Commission Fraud”.
Essentially exploited in the form of spam as well as on social networks since the Internet has existed, they were already massively used, before the Internet, in the form of “mailing” (sending classic paper mail, in bulk) then “mailing fax” (sending bulk faxes).
The “419 Frauds” implement social engineering and play on human gullibility.
Gullibility is a failure of social intelligence in which a person is easily tricked or manipulated into an ill-advised course of action.
The archetypal “419 Frauds” (there are thousands of variations) consists of dangling a big slice of a fabulous prize pool or an easy win that the scammer cannot benefit from alone for various convoluted reasons. He asks for your “assistance” and, after hooking you up, explains that there are a few “menu fees” to pay first! The “kitty” obviously does not exist and the advanced “fresh menus” are lost.
The cheated victims who tried to find the crook by going and investigating on the spot were physically violently dissuaded, even executed.
This is how internet scams like 419 fraud work
We’ve all received horribly badly written e-mails like this, where a wealthy businessman from a distant land offers us astronomical sums of money for a service that wouldn’t cost us much, and that would of course be refunded. It may seem unlikely to you to fall into such a crude trap, yet this fraud has been able to extract approximately $10 billion per year from all of its victims, and has been doing so for years.
In security parlance, we speak of an Advance Fee Fraud (AFF), better known as fraud 419, the number of the article of the Nigerian penal code which condemns this practice. The practice originated in Nigeria, but soon spread to many countries in West Africa, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe.
The principle is simple: contact the victim by e-mail and ask them for help in transmitting millions to their account in exchange for which they will receive a good percentage of the total transmitted. For this, the scammer extorts variable sums from his victim under the pretext of costs necessary to ensure the smooth running of the transfer, until the victim becomes aware of the deception. At that point, using Western Union or MoneyGram makes the scammer untraceable, and the scammer disappears.
Well-established and experienced fraud
For the Washington Post, Rich identifies some little-known characteristics of this phenomenon to better understand it. According to him, the 419 fraud dates from before the Internet, and was already working by mail in the 1970s and 1980s. These are not isolated acts: the scammers come from well-established and very hierarchical organizations.
These organizations have worked hard to make maximum profit: the emails are usually intentionally poorly written and lack credibility to directly reach the most gullible and naive individuals. They manipulate these people using the lexical field of trust, which is all the more present in e-mails when the amount of money involved is large.
The origin of fraud 419
In the beginning were the postal mailings then the fax mailings.
The principles of “419 Fraud” have existed for centuries, but the fall in the price of postal mail and then of telephony (fax) then the birth of the Internet and the birth of the Web on the Internet leading to free telephony have exploded the practice of these frauds, especially from the countries of black Africa towards the Western countries, the distance and the cultural and political differences making these crimes out of all possible legal proceedings, the victims being considered as imbeciles having made themselves have through their own faults.
Read also: Embezzlement is Ttype of Financial Fraud
Every business owner, tradesperson and individual with a fax machine received dozens of 419 Fraud proposals by fax back in the 1970s, long before the web existed, making them scream because it ate up the rolls of paper. heat-sensitive faxes! This did not prevent some of them from trying to walk in the scheme and being had.
Why this name?
“419 Fraud”. This name refers to Section 4-1-9 of the Penal Code of the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria dealing with such type of scams and punishing such practices.
All of these scams on the Internet are cybercrimes and fall under psychological manipulation techniques called social engineering (the art of pulling worms out of your nose), in order to harm, scam, convince…
419 Fraud Scenario
At first, the scam consists, not in extracting money from the victim, but in offering it!
When contact is established, a well-rehearsed scenario locks the victim into progression. Untraceable relationships are established, but the future victim is too absorbed by his obvious future gains and certain that he is absolutely not concerned with the risks, or even the obvious:
- Phone calls on untraceable cell phones.
- Premium rate phone calls.
- Use of garbage mailboxes such as Yahoo! Mail or Gmail.
- IP addresses ending up in internet cafes making it impossible to identify the physical person behind the scam.
Once the future victim is hooked up, if the operation appears to be of importance, she is told that it must be “officialized” and “legalized” this, which adds to the confidence, and that she must make the advance certain costs in order, for example, to “take the kitty out of the country” or “transfer the assets sold”:
- Application fees
- Administrative costs
- Intermediary fees
- Expenses necessary to bribe a bank employee
- Lawyer Fees
- Notary fees
- Bailiff fees
- Freight costs
- Stay expenses
The “kitty” obviously does not exist. Some suspicious victims were even invited to come and meet their “benefactor”. The gradation of the risks incurred on the spot then goes from taking hostage to constraints under torture with additional extortion of funds, etc. until the execution of the victim who has the misfortune to open his eyes.
How to fight against 419 frauds?
To combat 419 fraud, “public education does not appear to be a useful approach,” the professor tells us. According to him, it is much more efficient to develop anti-spam filters, which could use this lexical field data to be more efficient.
Understand and identify e-mail scam attempts?
The most common practices are referred to as “scam” or “phishing”.
A stranger sends you an e-mail to offer you to serve as an intermediary, against payment, for an international financial transaction, or to recover your winnings from a lottery or to contact him to collect an inheritance.
You are invited to provide your details, then you will be asked to pay an advance or any fees, without you getting anything in return!
What is “phishing”?
“Phishing” or phishing consists of the fraudster pretending to be an organization that is familiar to you (bank, tax administration, social security fund, etc.), using its logo and name. You receive an email in which you are asked to “update” or “confirm following a technical incident” your data, including banking.
If you’ve been scammed, don’t be shy and hesitate to file a complaint and report it to the Police
Complaints are few. No one can take advantage of his own turpitudes. The victim of the scam will only very rarely make himself known, because:
- She or he knows that she tried to participate in a “shady” operation.
- She or he knows she’s been greedy, which she’s not going to brag about.
- She or he knows, but too late, having been naive (and the word is weak), that she is not going to shout from the rooftops.
Always report online scams to your local or national Police
Criminal activity must be reported to your local or national police. INTERPOL does not investigate or arrest people; this is the responsibility of the national (or respective state) police.
Once you have reported the crime, the police in your country can access INTERPOL’s services and databases if needed. Even if the crime you wish to report is international, you should still contact the local police.