419 scams are a type of fraud and one of the most common types of confidence trick. The scam typically involves promising the victim a significant share of a large sum of money, which the fraudster requires a small up-front payment to obtain. If a victim makes the payment, the fraudster either invents a series of further fees for the victim, or simply disappears.
There are many variations on this type of scam, including advance-fee fraud, Fifo's Fraud, Spanish Prisoner Scam, the black money scam, 626 scam and the Detroit-Buffalo scam. The number "419" refers to the article of the Nigerian Criminal Code dealing with fraud. The scam has been used with fax and traditional mail, and is now used with the Internet.
The spread of e-mail and email harvesting software significantly lowered the cost of sending scam letters by using the Internet.
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