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What is a Nigerian/419 scam?

A Nigerian scam is a confidence trick in which the victim is asked to provide financial/personal information, or a small amount of money, with the promise of receiving large sums of money in return.

Nigerian scams, also known as "advance fee fraud" and "419 fraud," usually has an urgent plea from a foreign country in the name of a government leader, ex-leader, or close relative as the subject line, The email contains a plea requesting that the recipient provide money or their financial information (such as bank account name, number, etc) as a way to help in facilitating the transfer of a substantial sum of money. In return for this help, the email promises a commission, usually in the range of several million dollars. The sender usually requests the recipient to maintain the confidentiality of the information provided in the email. Once the recipient provides access to their financial information in order to transfer funds or directly provides the necessary funds, the scammer may disappear or try to get more money with claims of continued problems with the transfer.

The Nigerian scam earned its name because so many of the messages were from Nigerian addresses or named the Central Bank of Nigeria as the financial institution through which funds would be transferred if the recipient of the e-mail fell for the scam, and 419 refers to the article of the Nigerian Criminal Code dealing with fraud.

Warning signs of a Nigerian scam email include requests for U.S. currency, financial transactions involving a foreign country, spelling or language errors in the body of the email, and a promise of substantial compensation for little effort.

What to do if you receive a Nigerian scam message

If you receive one of these scam emails, it is important that you do not respond to it in any way. The scammers are likely to act upon any response from those they see as potential victims. Before you delete the message, you might like to report the scam by forwarding the email to the FTC at

Also, please report the incident to Juno, by clicking on the "Report Junk" button available in Juno Message Center or forwarding the message along with its full headers to

To learn how to forward an email with full headers, please click here.

What to do if you have submitted information to Nigerian scammers

If you have already provided your banking/personal information or other critical information such as your driver's license, Social Security Number or Passport details to the scammers, you may become a victim of identity theft. For details on what to do, read the information about identity theft published by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

To learn more about the Nigerian/ 419 scams, please visit

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