Windows Secrets Newsletter: New 419 scam targets online sales

avoid the new 419 scam

By Woody Leonhard/Windows Secrets Newsletter

New “419″ scam involves PayPal and Western Union

There’s a new variation on the old “Nigerian” or “419″ scam, one that invokes the names of PayPal, Western Union, and the FBI — and the scammers are raking in billions.

Let me introduce you to the way these scum operate — and show you a few tricks that may keep you from adding to their booty.

“Greetings, I am writing this letter to you in good faith and I hope my contact with you will transpire into a mutual relationship now and forever. I am Mrs. Omigod Mugambi, wife of the late General Rufus Mugambi, former Director of Mines for the Dufus Diamond Dust Co. Ltd., of Central Eastern Lower Leone …”

I’m sure you’re smart enough to pass over e-mail like that — at least, I hope so. It’s an obvious setup for the classic 419 scam — also known as the Russian scam, the Detroit/Buffalo scam, and, of course, the Nigerian Letter, as described in a Wikipedia page. (The 419 moniker is derived from the Nigerian Criminal Code, Chapter 38, Article 419: “Obtaining property by false pretences; cheating.”)

Recently I bumped into a more sophisticated version of the same kind of scam and tried to trace it all the way back to its source. I’ll take you through the scam’s stages and show you some of its wrinkles. Plus I’ll whine about the way big companies such as PayPal and Western Union are letting us down, and I’ll talk about how I rode the paperless trail to its roots. You may be able to, too.

There’s a reason why everybody gets so much 419-scam e-mail. It’s a huge business. The 419 Coalition says that, as early as 1996, 419 scams netted U.S. $5 billion. The subsequent rise of the Internet and e-mail has only increased the opportunities for this type of fraud. (While Nigeria does harbor its share of 419 scams, perpetrators can be found in all corners of the globe, including the U.S. But, as you’ll see shortly, there are significant advantages to working out of small countries.

Here’s the rest of the story…

This post is excerpted with permission from Windows Secrets.

Windows Secrets Newsletter

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2 Responses to Windows Secrets Newsletter: New 419 scam targets online sales

  1. Mary says:

    I received one simular to yours & it also talked about freezing my bank account & hitting me wth a stiff fine… I looked up a email address for the FBI & forwarded it to them…with a note .


  2. Alan Izzo says:

    I got an E-Mail just the other day with an official looking FBI graphics on it. They claimed I had a bank transfer from the Bank of Niggeria to Bank America for $10.5M USD. The transaction was performed without the neccessary paperwork and that I would be arrested if I don’t contact them within 48 hours.
    I looked to see the return address and saw a ladies name @ aol.com so I Immediately marked the message as SPAM and then deleted it.
    Even I know that anything from the FBI or any other government agency would be using an address that would have included something like US.GOV.COM or some such.
    Although the $10.5M USD was a dead giveaway to it being fake. I was curious to reed the rest.
    Another point it was addressed to “undisclosed resident”, cute hah?
    Has anyone else seen this one?


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