How to Protect Yourself from 419 Scams


Thought Leadership

How to Protect Yourself from 419 Scams

Bear Huddleston


Have you ever received an email that was too good to be true? Has someone claiming to have a large amount of money tried to seek your help in donating money to charity? How about being offered a payout for being a victim of a scam? Welcome to the world of 419 scams.

What exactly is a 419 scam? It is advance-fee scam/fraud - commonly known as the "Nigerian Prince" scam, the most popular theme of this type of scam. You know how it goes: an alleged prince from Nigeria emails you to let you know he wants to gift you with millions of high-value goods such as gold and jewelry, and all you need to do is provide him with money to cover the cost of the transaction. But there is no prince, and there is no gold or jewelry.  

I bet you are wondering where the "419" comes from. The number is derived from the Nigerian criminal code 419 that outlaws these scams.

Thought the Nigerian Prince example is the most popular, 419s come in all different variations but all ask for an advance payment in the form of a fee/service as well as ask for personal and banking information. 

In this blog, we will discuss two themes that are currently circulating - charity donation and fraud compensation.

Charity Theme

This particular variant of the 419 scheme has the scammer seeking help so they can make a sizeable "donation" to a charity. 

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Fraud Compensation Theme

This theme has the scammer wanting to compensate you for being scammed.

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If you receive any variation of the 419 scam, you can protect yourself from these scams by using the following tips:

  • Do not send money to anyone you do not know, and do not open unsolicited attachments in emails.
  • Do not send personal or banking information to confirm details or receive money from a stranger.
  • Be wary of unsolicited emails asking you to send or handle money.
  • Be suspicious of any email that offers to wire money to someone other than yourself

Rule of thumb, if it too good to be true, it is most likely is - and it is a scam.

If you are an AppRiver customer, forward any suspicious emails to and our 24/7 trained cybersecurity specialists will review the email for you.

If you're not an AppRiver customer, contact us for a free trial of our Advanced Email Security