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

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In that con, businessmen were contacted by an individual allegedly trying to smuggle someone connected to a wealthy family out of a prison in Spain.

In exchange for assistance, the scammer promised to share money with the victim in exchange for a small amount of money to bribe prison guards.

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According to Cormac Herley, a researcher for Microsoft, "By sending an email that repels all but the most gullible, the scammer gets the most promising marks to self-select." In Nigeria, scammers use computers in Internet cafés to send mass emails promising potential victims riches or romance, and to trawl for replies.

They refer to their targets as mugus, slang developed from a Yoruba word meaning "fool".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.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.The sums involved are usually in the millions of dollars, and the investor is promised a large share, typically ten to forty percent, in return for assisting the fraudster to retrieve or expatriate the money.