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To help persuade the victim to agree to the deal, the scammer often sends one or more false documents bearing official government stamps, and seals.
419 scammers often mention false addresses and use photographs taken from the Internet or from magazines to falsely represent themselves.
An email subject line may say something like "From the desk of barrister [Name]", "Your assistance is needed", and so on.
The details vary, but the usual story is that a person, often a government or bank employee, knows of a large amount of unclaimed money or gold which he cannot access directly, usually because he has no right to it.
In exchange for transferring the funds out of Nigeria, the recipient would keep 30% of the total.
To get the process started, the scammer asked for a few sheets of the company’s letterhead, bank account numbers, and other personal information.
Yet other variants have involved mention of a Nigerian prince or other member of a royal family seeking to transfer large sums of money out of the country—thus, these scams are sometimes called "Nigerian Prince emails".
The essential fact in all advance-fee fraud operations is the promised money transfer to the victim never happens, because the money does not exist.
More delays and additional costs are added, always keeping the promise of an imminent large transfer alive, convincing the victim that the money the victim is currently paying is covered several times over by the payoff.
The implication that these payments will be used for "white-collar" crime such as bribery, and even that the money they are being promised is being stolen from a government or royal/wealthy family, often prevents the victim from telling others about the "transaction", as it would involve admitting that they intended to be complicit in an international crime.
Other official-looking letters were sent from a writer who said he was a director of the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
He said he wanted to transfer million to the recipient’s bank account – money that was budgeted, but never spent.