Cumulative global losses to 419 crime were reported in 1996 to be US$ 5 Billion, and to be well over US$ 100 Billion today.
419 is defined as a sub-classification of Advance Fee Fraud crime in which the criminals have a Nigerian and/or West African connection. There are of course Advance Fee Fraud criminals of many nationalities, operating in many nations, but only Advance Fee Fraud crime with a Nigerian and/or West African connection is classified as 419. 419ers operate globally and there are 419er cells in many nations, but Nigeria tends to be the "home office" of most 419ers regardless of the physical location of an individual cell. 419 crime is multinational and transnational. As 419 operations evolved, the massive use of e-mail and the internet to perpetrate 419 crime has made it virtually omnipresent globally.
Historically, 419 is said to be a modern derivative of traditional centuries old West African scams and pranks such as the "Red Mercury" scam (a "magical substance" advance fee fraud scam very similar to Black Currency 419, which is described below). Although 419 has often been erroneously described as an evolution of an old European advance fee fraud called the "Spanish Prisoner" scam, after a journalist doing an early article on noted the similarities between it and certain forms of 419, in actuality 419 is more of a "home grown" enterprise as it were.
419 Scams operate as follows: the target receives an unsolicited fax, email, or letter often concerning Nigeria or another African nation containing either a money laundering or other illegal proposal OR you may receive a Legal and Legitimate business proposal by normal means. Common variations on the Scam include "overinvoiced" or "double invoiced" oil or other supply and service contracts where your Bad Guys want to get the overage out of Nigeria (Classic 419); crude oil and other commodity deals and Purchase Order 419 (forms of Goods and Services 419); a "bequest" left you in a will (Will Scam 419); "money cleaning" where your Bad Guy has a lot of currency that needs to be "chemically cleaned" before it can be used and he needs the cost of the chemicals (Black Currency 419, also called Wash-Wash); "spoof banks" where there is supposedly money in your name already on deposit; "paying" for a purchase with a check larger than the amount required and asking for change to be advanced (cashier's check and money order 419); fake lottery 419; chat room and romance 419 (usually coupled with one of the other forms of 419); employment 419 (including secret shopper 419); and ordering items and commodities off "trading" and "auction" sites on the web and then cheating the seller. Immigration and Visa 419 scams have also become increasingly troublesome and prevalent over the years. In short, the variations of Advance Fee Fraud (419) are very creative and virtually endless, so do not consider the above as an all-inclusive list!
At some point, the victim is asked to pay up front an Advance Fee of some sort, be it an "Advance Fee", "Transfer Tax", "Performance Bond", or to extend credit, grant COD privileges, send back "change" on an overage cashier's check or money order, whatever. If the victim pays the Fee, there are often many "Complications" which require still more advance payments until the victim either quits, runs out of money, or both. If the victim extends credit on a given transaction etc. he may also pay such fees ("nerfund" etc.), and also stiffed for the Goods or Service with NO Effective Recourse.
Most 419 letters and emails originate from or are traceable back to Nigeria. However, many also originate from other nations, mostly also West African nations such as Ghana, Togo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast ( Cote D'Ivoire ) etc. In most cases 419 emails from other nations (even European nations like the UK, the Netherlands, Spain etc. ) are also Nigerian in that the "Home Office" of the 419ers involved is Nigeria regardless of the apparent source of the contact materials. But there are occasionally some "local" copycats trying to emulate the success of the Nigerians, generally not very successfully.
The Nigerian Scam is, according to published reports, the Third to Fifth largest industry in Nigeria. It is the 419 Coalition view that the elites from which the governing classes of Nigeria are drawn contain 419 Scammers which can make it difficult for victims seeking recourse in these matters.
PLEASE DON'T SEND 419 COALITION A COPY OF THE 419 SOLICITATION YOU RECEIVED, we've seen tens of thousands already.
DO NOT RESPOND TO THE 419ER and DO FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS THAT APPLY TO YOU AS GIVEN IN THE "WHAT TO DO" SECTIONS BELOW (scroll way down)..
Please Read the ENTIRE site BEFORE contacting 419 Coalition for information, questions etc., as ALL AVAILABLE INFORMATION AND DATA IS ALREADY SUMMARIZED AND POSTED UP ON THIS SITE.
Some History of, and Remarks Concerning, the Nigerian EFCC - if not interested in this material, just scroll down to the next section
Monies stolen by 419 operations are very rarely recovered from Nigeria, although the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) when led by Nuhu Ribadu and Ibrahim Lamorde made some welcome progress in that regard for several years prior to 2008.
Ribadu and Lamorde were, however, replaced by Mrs. Farida Waziri as head of the EFCC in early 2008. Under her leadership, it is our view and the consensus of most counter-419ers as we understand it, that the EFCC was not as active in counter-419 matters as it was under Ribadu and Lamorde. 419 Coalition believes that EFCC performance in the area of recovery and repatriation of 419ed monies was particularly bad under Waziri. For example, in the Odiawa case, in which the EFCC was able to convict the 419er several years ago, and the court ordered restitution of over a million dollars to the victim, the victim didn't see a dime while Waziri was in charge - very disappointing. Mrs. Waziri was herself replaced in November 2011.
Ibrahim Lamorde returned to the EFCC as Director of Operations in December 2010, and replaced Waziri as Director of the EFCC in November 2011. Under his leadership EFCC performance in arresting and convicting 419ers improved.
Ibrahim Mustafa Magu was appointed in November 2015 by the incoming Buhari administration to replace Mr. Lamorde as Director of the EFCC. Mr. Magu, prior to this appointment, was the top official of the EFCC's Economic and Governance Unit (EGU), which handles investigations of senior public officials. An article "introducing" Mr. Magu is posted up in 419 Coalition's News for 10 NOV 2015 (see News section below).
Under Mr. Magu, EFCC performance in arresting and convicting relatively low level 419ers, commonly known as "yahoo yahoo boys" and "guymen", markedly improved for which the EFCC is to be commended. Arrests and convictions of higher level 419ers, commonly called "Oga, Chairman, or Kingpin" (in the press) are also up a bit, but remain relatively rare.
In mid-2020, Ibrahim Magu was replaced by Mohammed Umar Abba, who was promoted from the position of Director of Operations of the Commission (EFCC) to be the Acting Chairman of the EFCC. Mr. Abba also previously headed up the Counter Terrorism and General Investigation Section at the EFCC Headquarters in Abuja. In February 2021 Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa replaced Mr. Abba and was appointed Executive Chairman of the EFCC. Mr. Bawa is a highly trained young career EFCC professional who has steadily moved up the EFCC ranks, including three dufferent Zonal Commander postings, to become Executive Chairman of the EFCC.
To date, EFCC performance in the recovery and repatriation of 419ed funds remains dismal - for example, in the famous Odiawa case mentioned above, the victim still has received nothing whatever of the million plus dollars in restitution Ordered by the Court. This despite the fact that the EFCC has publicly claimed that it has a pool of hundreds of millions of dollars recovered from 419ers that is unclaimed and unrepatriated. Obviously, even hundreds of millions of recovered money (if the EFCC claim is true) is miniscule given the obscene aggregate of total monies stolen (approaching $100 BILLION) by Nigerian 419 criminals over the years.
One would think this supposed fund of hundreds of millions of dollars recovered from 419ers could be used to pay Court Ordered Restitutions promptly, with the EFCC subsequently replenishing the pool as it recovers monies from the convicted 419er in the case, or from unclaimed monies recovered from other 419ers, but no common-sense move like that has been made as yet.... So this ostensible pool of hundreds of millions of dollars must be "parked" at Central Bank of Nigeria or somewhere (hopefully intact and perhaps even earning interest) helping no victims of 419 at all to date.... And of course these monies should be available to be repatriated to victims of 419. After all, the monies belong to victims of 419 - not to the EFCC nor the Nigerian Government. We're thrilled if the EFCC and the Nigerian Government recovered this money, but they don't get to KEEP it..... That is the 419 Coalition view, in any case.
Ultrascan Advanced Global Investigations, a Netherlands - based firm which has been studying 419 matters since the mid -1990's, has prepared reports on 419 Advance Fee Fraud Statistics for several years. These stats are based on Ultrascan's in-house investigations and include, by nation: number of 419 rings; number of 419ers; income of the 419ers (the amount of losses by victims to the 419ers); and additional data. 419 Coalition view is that these stats present a reasonably conservative and realistic look at the extent and magnitude of 419 criminal operations worldwide.
Ultrascan Advanced Global Investigations, a Netherlands - based firm which has been studying 419 matters since the mid - 1990's, in 2020 completed an interesting study and commentary on the nexus of Nigerian organized crime, corruption, and terrorist activity. Here is a link to that study: 2020 Nigeria The Split.
Most in English, but also some in French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Other languages
1. DO NOT RESPOND TO THE 419 SOLICITATION.
2. Notify your Own Nation's National Law Enforcement Agency and your Own Nation's Foreign Office.
3. File a complaint with Econsumer.gov. This is a new-ish centralized reporting site which is used by 40 plus countries and is available in many languages. 419 Coalition feels this could be a very useful site if it is handled correctly. 419 Coalition has been advocating Centralized Reporting as one of the most effective ways to counter-419 for 26 plus years now...
4. File a Complaint with the Nigerian Embassy or High Commission in your nation. It used to be possible to email complaints and 419 materials in to the Central Bank of Nigeria and to the Nigeria Police, but those email addresses have not worked for some time.
5. For Loss cases only, you may file a complaint with the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Their website is at http://www.efccnigeria.org/ You may also file complaints with the Central Bank of Nigeria Anticorruption Unit at email@example.com and should do so especially if CBN is mentioned in the 419 materials.
6. If the contact from the 419ers was via email: write their email provider at their "abuse" address (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com etc.) and include the 419er message with its headers; complain about the 419 message; and ask that the account be shut down. You may also file complaints with watchdog type sevices like Spamcop to try and get the 419ers email accounts shut off by whatever ISP they are using - Spamcop and other services like it will parse the headers of the 419 email and try to see through forged information etc. to get back to the actual origin of the 419 email, which is often useful in these matters.
Please remember that it is important to include the message's full header information. This is necessary for tracking the message's point of origin. This extra information is not shown by default, and the method of displaying it depends on the email resource you use. If you don't know how to display full headers, please see the instructions in your mail program or website. (Note: Many webpage-based email hosts include a "full headers" option link near the top of the message.)
Some 419ers give different email addies in the body of their mail than the one they sent from. You should complain to "abuse" etc. at those email providers as well.
You can also report 419 scams via Scamwatch, a service provided by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission of the Australian government.
Copies of 419 solicitations (regardless of country origin) can be directly forwarded to CAFC via fax at (888) 654-9426 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. When 419 solicitations recieved by email are forwarded, please include the Headers of the 419 note. Do not send the 419 solicitation in as an attachment. Forward with headers is the drill. [419 Coalition would like to note that in our view the way the Canadians are handling 419 reporting - Centralized Reporting asking those receiving emailed 419 solicitations to simply forward them in with Headers - is the most practical and effective way to handle 419 reporting. Much better than the systems requiring "forms" etc. currently in place in the US and UK, for example. Other nations should take note of the Canadian system and emulate it. That is the recommendation of 419 Coalition - we've been advocates of doing it this way for Decades now.]
Please contact CAFC by phone at (888) 495-8501 if contact has been made with a "Nigerian" representative.
In emergencies, offices of the RCMP Commercial Crime Branch may be contacted. The phone/fax numbers of the nearest CCB office are available from any local detachment of the RCMP/GRC.
You may also access the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Website (RCMP/GRC) which contains a section on 419 scams.
FraudeHelpDesk Main Page (in Dutch)
FraudeHelpDesk Main Page (in English)
Or call on +31 887867372
There is online reporting (but only still in Dutch as yet)
FraudeHelpDesk Question and Report Form
For reporting via Twitter
For futher information contact:
The South African Police Service no longer maintains a 419 Scams/Nigerian Letters Alert on their website. They did awhile back have a short Counter-419 poster up on their site, but no more. However, we downloaded a copy of it when it was up, so here it is: Click Here.
Also, the definition/explanation of 419 fraud given on the ActionFraud site, is, shall we say, quite limited in its scope and accuracy, and we strongly urge our readers to use the more accurate definition/explanation of West African 419 Advance Fee Fraud given at the top of the main page (this page) of the 419 Coalition site (scroll up).
Here, again, is a link to the 419 Fraud page of the ActionFraud site: ActionFraud (419 Page). The main telephone number for ActionFraud is 0300 123 2040 (a UK number, of course).
2. United States Citizens and Residents who HAVE suffered a Financial Loss are instructed to contact the nearest Field Office of the United States Secret Service (USSS) by telephone.
3. You may file a Financial Loss complaint online with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) [formerly the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC) ]. This organization is a partnership of the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). This site requires a form to be filled out in order to file a complaint. This, of course, puts an additional step into complaint filing, which tends to minimize the number of complaints of attempted 419 Fraud that are filed. In order to maximize the number of compleints reported, simply forwarding 419 solicitations along with their headers has always been the procedure preferred by the 419 Coalition. But this method of reporting was unfortunately "superseded" by the current system some time ago.
4. American citizens concerned that they may be the victims of an international scam may also call the U.S. Department of State at (888) 407-4747 or the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
5. Anyone who has not suffered a loss, but who wishes report receipt of 419 "spam", may forward the 419 solicitation they have received, with headers, to the Federal Trade Commission at email@example.com for their database.
419 Coalition is always glad to try and answer via email any questions from individuals or journalists on 419 matters which are NOT already covered on the site.
419 Coalition no longer takes voice calls nor does voice interviews. We used to, but we were too overwhelmed to continue doing so. However, author Brian Wizard ( Nigerian 419 Scam: Game Over! ) does enjoy doing occasional voice interviews. US Secret Service 419 Task Force, when it existed, used to have spokesmen available for interviews, you could try them in Washington DC at 202-406-5850.
419 Coalition no longer "furnishes" 419 victims to the media for interviews, sorry. However, several victims have stated in our News sections that they are available for interview and have given their contact data, so check there.
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