4-1-9 "But there will be just a few expenses"
Victims beaten, killed... ...or missing: graves in the jungle?
Nigerian Scam Letters, or 419's, appear in email boxes all over the world. They appear on fax machines, and are delivered by the postman. They offer opportunity, adventure, travel, and lots and lots of money.
These popular schemes are called "Nigerian" because that is where they originated, namely in the former capitol city of Lagos. Nowadays there is ample evidence that the scam is being perpetrated by swindlers worldwide. 419'ers are located in England, Canada, Asia, and throughout Europe and the U.S.
4-1-9: Four-One-Nine is the Nigerian criminal code for a scam that is not only widespread but deadly. One receives an unsolicited email, snail mail, or fax stating that millions of US dollars need to be removed from Nigeria (or some other country, usually in West Africa) and you have been selected by government, banking officials, or surviving relatives to assist.
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"But there will be just a few expenses"
"Naturally, you will be amply rewarded for your assistance by retaining a percentage of the funds transferred; however, in order to facilitate the procedure your financial assistance is required up front."
This phrase is couched in other words, soft persuasive words, that impel the victim to begin sending money and gifts (for bribes) that are supposedly needed to release the funds from the fingers of greedy officials.
Victims beaten, killed ...
Sometimes convincing a victim to hand over all his money (or at least an overwhelming portion of his savings) isn't enough - there have been instances of victims who have gone to Africa to meet with the supposed Nigerian officials, only to end up mugged, badly beaten, and even dead. The victim's cash and credit cards are taken (to be sold on the international market), and anything whatsoever of value is ripped from the victim's person.
... or missing: graves in the jungle?
And then there is this from the U.S. Secret Service site:
"Victims are almost always requested to travel to Nigeria or a border country to complete a transaction. Individuals are often told that a visa will not be necessary to enter the country. The Nigerian con artists may then bribe airport officials to pass the victims through Immigration and Customs. Because it is a serious offense in Nigeria to enter without a valid visa, the victim's illegal entry may be used by the fraudsters as leverage to coerce the victims into releasing funds. Violence and threats of physical harm may be employed to further pressure victims. In June of 1995, an American was murdered in Lagos, Nigeria, while pursuing a 4-1-9 scam, and numerous other foreign nationals have been reported as missing."
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* See The Nigerian Connection
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