Friday, May 20, 2016

The Origins of Nigeria's Notorious 419 Scams

Nigerian scammers are generally regarded as pioneers in the sending of mass letters, messages and emails seeking to defraud any recipient foolish and greedy enough to fall for their tricks, although all the signs are that the practice has now spread worldwide. Nigerians call scams like these “Four One Nine,” so called by reference to Article 419 of the country’s criminal code, which concerns fraud. Yet Nigeria's 419 scammers have a far longer pedigree than most people realise. The first properly documented 419 letter dates from 1920 and was written by one P. Crentsil to a contact in the British colony of the Gold Coast, today’s Ghana.