Nigerian scammers have bilked millions of dollars from a range of worldwide targets. Old confidence, or “con,” games, such as the 419 fraud (419 is Nigeria's criminal code for the offense), continue to be used, but Nigerians have more recently pitched scams to the lonely and lovelorn and have posed as legitimate business owners trying to do business with people outside Nigeria. These seemingly legitimate operations are almost completely fraudulent. In addition, West African gangs are now well organized and have evolved far beyond 419-type cons, perpetrating more sophisticated criminal enterprises such as bank and investment fraud, identity theft, money laundering, drug dealing, human trafficking, and terrorism.

The 419 fraud begins with Nigerian nationals purporting to be officials of their government or banking institutions. These criminals ...

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