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Definition: 419 fraud


Also called the "Nigerian letter" and "advance-fee fraud," the 419 fraud refers to a section of the criminal code in Nigeria. It refers to fax and email spam claiming that recipients can receive money (often millions of dollars or Euros) simply by providing details of their bank accounts to the criminals. Many of the messages claim that the money has been obtained illegally and that the victims of the scam will keep a portion of the stolen funds if they cooperate. Early versions of the scam in the 1980s sometimes claimed that the sender was a prince. If a gullible recipient showed interest by responding, some of the criminals would write back announcing that there was a "small" fee to pay in advance.