Internet Fraud Crime

Many people who have e-mail accounts have received a message promising a fabulous sum of money in return for assisting in the transfer of funds out of a country, usually Nigeria. Numerous businesses have also received faxes making similar offers. These proposals are part of a fraudulent scheme called a "4-1-9 scam"; it is named after the section of the Nigerian criminal code dealing with such fraud. If you have been involved in a 4-1-9 scam, consult with an attorney experienced in the area of Internet crime.

How Does a 4-1-9 Scam Work?

The scam begins with an unsolicited message from a sender who claims to have gotten your name by chance or because you were recommended as trustworthy. Either way, you are his last opportunity for help, and he is desperate for your assistance. He claims to be a family member or close associate of a former government official or important businessperson, perhaps someone who lost his life during political upheaval.

Before the sender's associate died or became otherwise unavailable, he deposited a very large sum of money sometimes $1 million and sometimes as much as $35 million into a bank account in his home country. The problem is that the sender cannot get the money out of the country without your help. If you help to transfer the money, the sender promises, you will receive 15 to 50 percent of the total. The sender asks you to provide your bank account information so that the money may be transferred to the US. He may also ask for letterhead stationery from your business.

Sometimes, the fraud ends here, as the sender loots the victim's bank account. Often, however, this is just the beginning.

The 4-1-9 Scam Intensifies

If the scam continues, the victim may be sent official-looking documents regarding the transfer of the money. The victim is apprised of developments in the situation that require money from the victim. Government officials may need bribes, for instance, or bank fees and administrative costs may crop up. Once the sender finds a victim who is willing to pay, he will attempt to drain the source of all funds. These payments are called advance payments.

If the sender concludes that the victim's funds have dried up, he may move on. If he determines that there is more money to be had, however, the victim may be asked to meet up with the sender, either in Nigeria or a neighboring country. This is purportedly to finalize the transfer of the cash.

People who have gone to meet up with the con artists have been swindled out of more money, and sometimes they have been kidnapped, assaulted or even killed. Other times, victims are convinced to buy a special, extremely expensive money-cleaning solution to process a suitcase of "money" that is actually stacks of black paper.

Put an End to the Scam

Even though 4-1-9 scams may seem clearly suspicious to some, others have been taken in by the promise of a large, easy payoff. Sometimes, victims of the fraud are too embarrassed to come forward. If you have been affected by a 4-1-9 scam, speak with an attorney.

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