Internet dating scam crime list

One variant of the scam may date back to the 18th or 19th centuries, as a very similar letter, entitled "The Letter from Jerusalem", is seen in the memoirs of Eugène François Vidocq, a former French criminal and private investigator. One of these, sent via postal mail, was addressed to a woman's husband, and inquired about his health.

Another variant of the scam, dating back to circa 1830, appears very similar to what is passed via email today: "Sir, you will doubtlessly be astonished to be receiving a letter from a person unknown to you, who is about to ask a favour from you...", and goes on to talk of a casket containing 16,000 francs in gold and the diamonds of a late marchioness. It then asked what to do with profits from a .6 million investment, and ended with a telephone number.

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.

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 $20 million to the recipient’s bank account – money that was budgeted but never spent.

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.

For example, in 2006, 61% of Internet criminals were traced to locations in the United States, while 16% were traced to the United Kingdom and 6% to locations in Nigeria.

One reason Nigeria may have been singled out is the apparently comical, almost ludicrous nature of the promise of West African riches from a Nigerian prince.

If a victim makes the payment, the fraudster either invents a series of further fees for the victim, or simply disappears.

While Nigeria is most often the nation referred to in these scams, they originate in other nations as well.

An advance-fee scam is a form of fraud and one of the most common types of confidence trick.

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