So Many Suckers -- 419ers Bring In Millions In Just A Few Months

from the shockingly-easy dept

Want to know why you get so many 419 advance fee emails every day? It's because there are still way too many people with way too much extra cash who continue to fall for what is, basically, one of the oldest cons around. The latest is that a group of 419 scammers in Amsterdam have been arrested -- but not before they conned at least $2.4 million out of gullible people in about four months. In fact, officials think the $2.4 million is quite low -- and the real number may be "many times more than that." Late last year I read Drake's Fortune, which is basically about the equivalent of today's 419 scams, but from a century ago. The amazing thing is just how much a little greed and the thought of easy wealth causes people to completely lose all critical thinking abilities -- even to the point of still believing the con men after the whole thing is revealed and their money has been taken.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Posterlogo, Feb 23rd, 2006 @ 12:21pm

    What is a 419

    "Under the "419" scam - named after the Nigerian legal code for fraud - criminals send junk e-mail to thousands of unsuspecting people offering them a share in a large fortune if they can only provide a smaller amount of money up front. The criminal takes the money and then disappears."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Matt Sherwood, Feb 23rd, 2006 @ 1:19pm

    419 Scams

    thank god for g-mail..these all get sent directly to spam...not that I ever fell for them back in my "Road Runner e-mail" (just the pits, ine ebry way...has it gotten any better in the last 18 months? days, but they sure were a NUISANCE to wage through...Query to well do Yahoo and AOL filter these out? (I assume Hotmail almost as bad as Roadrunner, no?)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Dam, Feb 23rd, 2006 @ 1:49pm

    I May Burn In Hell........

    but I just can't feel sorry for people who are so naive that they would give a total stranger money or personal details. Are they elderly? They should know better.
    I donate money to a few charities each year, but break out in a sweat when I do.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Don Gray, Feb 23rd, 2006 @ 2:01pm

    Almost got a friend...

    I had a friend stationed in Germany who got one of these and had his tickets lined-up to go to London and make the deposit.

    Luckily, he mentioned it in an email. I did a bunch of lookups for him and sent him a bunch of links about it basically begging him not to do it. He eventually didn't, but even after all the information I sent him, it still took a phone call to convince him otherwise.

    I consider him an average intelligence person and he fell for it hook, line, and sinker. It was surreal...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    JohnD, Feb 23rd, 2006 @ 2:04pm

    Re: I May Burn In Hell........

    I suggest you and the author of this news investigate the specifics of the 419 scams. Some are pretty ridiculously obvious yes and their also the ones that almost never work. The counterfeit check 419 scam works constantly and whats even more ridiculous is the banks will even claim the check has been cleared.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    ehrichweiss, Feb 23rd, 2006 @ 2:33pm

    Re: I May Burn In Hell........

    How can you feel sorry for someone who thinks they themselves are ripping off someone, somewhere? I mean they get into them because they are greedy and think, like most white collar criminals, that nobody is being hurt by their actions.

    The best con in the world is one where you get some retard who thinks he's getting one over on "the man" and you fleece the idiot.

    I got my first introduction to this world in high school when a guy, significantly larger than I, asked to look at a knife of mine and then decided that he'd hold it hostage. I told him I'd have his money the next day and I promptly got the cash he wanted, put it in an envelope and then got some play money and put it in another envelope. Thanks to a few security guards looking out at school I had good reason to put the cash back in my pocket and make the old switch-a-roo. When the guy discovered it he at least had a sense of humor, realizing I could probably do it again but much worse but I got a helluva high knowing his greed showed him who was really running the game.

    So feel sorry for some of these idiots!?!? Never, they deserve it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Mr. Lucas Brice, Feb 23rd, 2006 @ 2:47pm

    They Deserve It

    Anyone who falls for a 419 scam deserves to get ripped off, plain and simple. The thing that drives these scams is greed, the desire to get money for nothing. Stupid greedy people deserve to get ripped off. It teaches them to be only stupid, like 90% of the people on the planet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Mgumbo Njambwe, Feb 23rd, 2006 @ 3:39pm

    Re: Almost got a friend...

    What's his email addy? I've got an offer he may be interested in...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Thomas, Feb 23rd, 2006 @ 4:58pm

    Re: 419 Scams

    You might want to check out

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Chris H, Feb 23rd, 2006 @ 6:04pm

    No Subject Given

    I've never gotten one of these emails in the 10+ some odd years I've been online. I'd like to get a few just so I can waste their time by sending emails back and forth.

    And like a lot of others here I have zero compassion for the people who fall for the scams.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2006 @ 7:53pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    The most fun can be had baiting the 419er... I once got in a long conversation (ie, multiple emails) detailing my personal life and how much money I had, until I decided to propose. It was pretty sweet. He stopped responding.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    TechNoFear (profile), Feb 23rd, 2006 @ 8:24pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    To paraphrase Einstein;
    There are two things that I think are unlimited, the universe and stupidity, and I’m not so sure about the former….

    What most people don’t realize is these are called ‘confidence’ tricks not because they gain your confidence but because they take you into theirs, by telling you something embarrassing / damaging about themselves.
    They are willing to trust you with their most embarrassing secret, so why shouldn’t you trust them?

    Got to love social engineering, much easier to get someone to tell you the password than try and crack it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Bill, Feb 24th, 2006 @ 10:01am

    No Subject Given

    Every day millions of people get fleeced by legal lotteries so it should be no surprise that other scams work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Shoal Creek, Feb 24th, 2006 @ 11:00am

    Re: No Subject Given

    Hey, Chris H.

    If you've got a junk email address that you don't mind trashing, just post it here and I'm sure someone could forward you an offer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Paul Frost, Feb 24th, 2006 @ 11:34am

    No compassion...

    First let me say that I've never fallen for a scam (to my knowledge anyway).

    Second, it amazes me that you people have no compassion for the victims here. Yes, they were stupid. That's even more of a reason to have compassion for them. Con artists don't prey on the strong, they prey on the weak (and in this case it's those who are weak minded in a sense). It's wrong. It's shameful. The victims deserve our compassion and not a our ridicule.

    My 2 cents...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    AlexG, Feb 24th, 2006 @ 1:26pm

    Re: Lotteries

    Lotteries are not played just because you're promised a win. Lotteries are played to get a thrill of expecting a win. Same for gambling. You pay for a thrill, for an opportunity to hold a (false) hope of getting a jackpot.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Benami, Feb 25th, 2006 @ 7:25pm

    Re: I May Burn In Hell........

    It is morally wrong to let a fool keep his/her money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Benami, Feb 25th, 2006 @ 7:30pm

    Re: No compassion...

    Darwin would be so disappointed here.

    Two points:
    1. People are not an endangered species, so it is hard to argue against:
    2... It is morally wrong to let a fool keep his money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    SmarterOne, Mar 14th, 2006 @ 4:58pm

    The Scammers Cant get caught?

    How come they keep sending 419 baits if they are supposed to be Illegal? Dont they in fact fear getting caught or is the law very loose over there?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    TAP, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 10:32am

    Re: The Scammers Cant get caught?

    The Nigerian government basically looks the other way at best. At worst, they endorse the scams. From what I've heard from a few Nigerian nationals I've been speaking to online (these aren't trying to scam me... tho I remain suspicious), the 419 scam is a major industry over there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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