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One reason Nigeria may have been singled out is the apparently comical, almost ludicrous nature of the promise of West African riches from a Nigerian prince.
According to Cormac Herley, a researcher for Microsoft, "By sending an email that repels all but the most gullible, the scammer gets the most promising marks to self-select." In Nigeria, scammers use computers in Internet cafés to send mass emails promising potential victims riches or romance, and to trawl for replies.
While Nigeria is most often the nation referred to in these scams, they originate in other nations as well.
The scam has been used with fax and traditional mail, and is now prevalent in online communications like emails.
The number "419" refers to the section of the Nigerian Criminal Code dealing with fraud, the charges and penalties for offenders.
In that con, businessmen were contacted by an individual allegedly trying to smuggle someone connected to a wealthy family out of a prison in Spain.
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An email subject line may say something like "From the desk of barrister [Name]", "Your assistance is needed", and so on.While Nigeria is most often the nation referred to in these scams, they may originate in other nations as well.For example, in 2006, 61% of Internet criminals were traced to locations in the United States, while 16% were traced to the United Kingdom and 6% to locations in Nigeria.419 scammers often mention false addresses and use photographs taken from the Internet or from magazines to falsely represent themselves.Often a photograph used by a scammer is not a picture of any person involved in the scheme.