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Nigerian Bank Scam Still Going Strong
November 2, 2001
Issue Alert

Nigerian Bank Scam Still Going Strong

Volume 6, Number 3

Over the past ten years it is estimated that between $100 million and $1 billion have been lost to a bank scam originating out of Nigeria, Africa. The scam, commonly known as “4-1-9” fraud after the controlling Nigerian fraud statute, plays on the greed of it’s victims and basically works as follows:

The potential victim (target) receives an unsolicited letter, fax, or e-mail from a Nigerian “official” offering participation in a money laundering or other illegal proposal
An offer is made to transfer millions of dollars in “over invoiced contract” funds into the target’s bank account
The target is asked to provide bank account numbers, telephone numbers and other identifying information
Numerous documents are sent to the target with official looking seals, stamps, etc. testifying to the authenticity of the proposal
The target is eventually asked to provide up-front or advanced fees to cover taxes, attorney fees, transactions fees, bribes, etc.
The target is often, but not always, encouraged to travel overseas to complete the transaction
Variations of 4-1-9 fraud include c.o.d. of goods or services, real estate opportunities, crude oil acquisitions, will beneficiaries, awards, and paper currency conversion.
While the letters of solicitation are almost laughable in the way they are written, the scam has become such a problem that the U.S. Secret Service has become involved in “Operation 4-1-9”, an effort to combat 4-1-9 fraud on an international basis. The Secret Service receives hundreds of phone calls and mailings daily from victims and potential victims and warns citizens that the goal of this scam is to, “…delude the target into thinking that he is being drawn into a very lucrative, albeit questionable, arrangement.”

More than money has been lost in connection with 4-1-9 fraud. A U.S. citizen was murdered in 1995 in Lagos, Nigeria when he attempted to pursue payment of his money and there are a number of other foreign nationals who have been reported missing, as well.

Victims of this scam are encouraged to forward all relevant documentation to the United States Secret Service, Financial Crimes Division, 950 H Street, NW, Washington, D.C. Victims can also reach the Secret Service by telephone at 202/406-5850, or by e-mail at Those who have merely received a letter or e-mail, but have not lost any money on this scheme, are being asked to fax a copy of that letter to the Secret Service at 202/406-5031.

If you have questions about this Issue Alert, or would like copies of past Issue Alerts, please contact Mark Manrique, Michigan Office of Services to the Aging (OSA) at 517/373-4076.

Permission is given to reproduce this Issue Alert in part or in its entirety

August 2001

* Article courtesy of Michigan Office of Services to the Aging (OSA)
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