Nigerian Letter or 419

Named for the violation of Section 419 of the Nigerian Criminal Code, the 419 scam combines the threat of impersonation fraud with a variation of an advance fee scheme in which a letter, email, or fax is received by the potential victim.

Helpful Tips


  • Be cautious when additional fees are requested to further the transaction.
  • Be cautious when dealing with individuals outside of your own country.
  • Be wary of individuals representing themselves as foreign government officials.
  • Beware when asked to assist in placing large sums of money in overseas bank accounts.
  • Do not believe the promise of large sums of money for your cooperation.
  • Do not reply to emails asking for personal banking information.
  • Guard your account information carefully.
  • If the "opportunity" appears too good to be true, it probably is.

Warning Signs


The communication from individuals representing themselves as Nigerian or foreign government officials offers the recipient the "opportunity" to share in a percentage of millions of dollars, soliciting for help in placing large sums of money in overseas bank accounts. Payment of taxes, bribes to government officials, and legal fees are often described in great detail with the promise that all expenses will be reimbursed as soon as the funds are out of the country. The recipient is encouraged to send information to the author, such as blank letterhead stationary, bank name and account numbers, and other identifying information using a facsimile number provided in the letter. The scheme relies on convincing a willing victim to send money to the author of the letter in several installments of increasing amounts for a variety of reasons.

Additional Details


Visit the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission website to learn more about combating financial and economic crimes in Nigeria.