If you have an email address no doubt at some time or another you have received an email from some friendly soul claiming that you’ve won a large sum of money.

Inevitably, in order to receive the money, you’ll first have to stump up a certain amount of cash.

This type of message, which often finds its way into users’ junk mail tray, is a variation of the scam known as the Nigerian letter, or the 419 scam (as they violate section 419 of the Nigerian criminal code).

Though this is one of the oldest scams on the Web, such emails are still commonplace for the simple reason that people still fall for it.

Variations of the 419 scam

  • The classic scam: Someone contacts you asking for help to get a large amount of money out of the country, in exchange for a decent commission. Sometimes the scammers even claim to represent a company that needs to get cash out of the country.
  • Animals: The criminals advertise cats, dogs, etc. for sale or even adoption. If you want one however, you are asked to forward the shipping costs first.
  • Lottery: Perhaps one of the funniest scams is the one that informs you that you have won the lottery… even if you didn’t buy a ticket! As usual, to receive your prize you have to send some cash up front.
  • An inheritance. You have inherited a sum of money from someone you didn’t even know, though of course, in order to receive it you must first hand over a small deposit.
  • Love: Someone you have never seen has fallen in love with you and has contacted you as they desperately want you to reciprocate. Once they have stolen your heart, they will need money in order to come and see you.

As we mentioned before, incredible though it may seem, people still fall for these scams.

Needless to say, you should never send money to someone who contacts you via email and neither should you reveal personal or financial information via email or over the phone.