Nigerian 419 Scams - A fool and their money are soon parted
The amazing thing is that thousands of people donít. In 2006 the highest dollar loss per incident reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center was the Nigerian Scam with a median loss of $5,100. Iím amazed that so many people can fall for this well known scam that has been around, in various forms for a long time.
Nigerian 419 Coalition Website
A Five Billion US$ (as of 1996, much more now) worldwide Scam which has run since the early 1980's under Successive Governments of Nigeria. It is also referred to as "Advance Fee Fraud", "419 Fraud" (Four-One-Nine) after a formerly relevant section of the Criminal Code of Nigeria, and "The Nigerian Connection" (mostly in Europe). However, it is usually called plain old "419" even by the Nigerians themselves. In brief, 419 is a sub-classification of Advance Fee Fraud crime in which the perpetrators are West Africans, primarily Nigerians, operating globally from Nigeria and elsewhere.
Internet Crime Complaint Center
Named for the violation of Section 419 of the Nigerian Criminal Code, the 419 scam combines the threat of impersonation fraud with a variation of an advance fee scheme in which a letter, email, or fax is received by the potential victim. The communication from individuals representing themselves as Nigerian or foreign government officials offers the recipient the "opportunity" to share in a percentage of millions of dollars, soliciting for help in placing large sums of money in overseas bank accounts. Payment of taxes, bribes to government officials, and legal fees are often described in great detail with the promise that all expenses will be reimbursed as soon as the funds are out of the country.
Wikipedia - Nigerian 419 Overview