419-advance-fee-fraud Definition


Also known as the Nigerian Connection or Nigerian Scam. Named after a formerly relevant section of the Criminal Code of Nigeria, where the scam originated and where most activity still originates.The target receives an unsolicited e-mail (i.e., spam) indicating something along the lines that some member of a previous government or royal family of Nigeria or some other West African nation (or now some country in the Middle East or some other exotic place) has had substantial funds frozen by the current government and cannot access or expatriate those funds.The recipient of the e-mail can help by wiring $5,000 or so as an advance fee, transfer fee, or performance bond, for which the target will receive a much larger sum of money. Sometimes the offer is for the target to accept a cashier's check for $100,000 and return $75,000 of that via wire transfer, but keep the rest as a fee. The $100,000 cashier's check is bogus, of course, while the $75,000 wire transfer is real. Sometimes the scam involves alleged overinvoicing or double-invoicing, with the party receiving the fake cashier's check asked to cash it and wire the overage back to the scam artist, less a handsome fee for the inconvenience, of course.This sort of fraudulent activity has gone on at least since the 1970s through the postal service and via fax machines, but is much more prevalent these days due to the widespread reach and ease of use of Internet e-mail.There are endless variations on the scam, and not all originate in Nigeria, although many originate in West African countries. See also e-mail, Internet, and spam.

Webster's New World Telecom

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