The monies lost are not pocket change.
Early in the new millennium, annual losses to this scam in the United States total more than $100 million, and law enforcement officials believe global losses may total over $1.5 billion (1 ).
The FBI's Internet fraud complaint center said that victims of 419 fraud lose an average of $3,400 each (2 ).
Valerie McNiven, who advises the U.S. Treasury on cybercrime said in 2005 "Last year was the first year that proceeds from cybercrime were greater than proceeds from the sale of illegal drugs, and that was, I believe, over $105 billion," (3 ).
This could be a fraction of real losses, only 1 in ten victims of this fraud report this fraud to the authorities (4 ).
In 2008 online crime was up 33.1 percent (5 ).
Over all in 2009 it was reported that US citizens loss 400 billion to cyber crime according to an estimate by the FBI, less than a third of cyber crimes are reported to law enforcement (6 ).
The victims of this fraud can be educated.
The National Bank of Nigeria warned the 419 fraud, "has continued unabated with increasing sophistication," (7 ).
These scams can be so clever that even extremely intelligent people can be duped. Barry Elliott a Detective Staff Sergeant of the Ontario Provincial Police and the creator and coordinator of Phonebusters, Canada's central agency for telemarketing, 419 scams, Internet fraud and identity theft said, "Most of the victims are intelligent professional business people, "(8 ).
British financial-crimes consultant Peter Lilley said, "Most people just can't understand how anyone could fall for such offers out of the blue," and he continued "But this is one of the most organized criminal operations in the world with very sophisticated cells operating on a global scale." (9 ).
Even people would consider intelligent fall for this scam. Peter Tachauer, a detective sergeant with the City of London police, is investigating 419 fraud emails and faxes sent to doctors. He knows of at least two physicians who lost collectively 100,000 dollars (10 ).
These are not isolated causes of doctors being taken. In August of 2000 Ali-Reza Ghasemi, MD was contact by someone claiming to be from Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. when it was finally finished he lost $400,000.00. No arrest have been made in this case(11 ).
A victim attorney Lester Turner, said about the purveyors of this fraud, "You wouldn't believe these guys. They are so convincing," he also said "They look good and sound good, and they have phony documentation and references."(12 ).
Mr Turner is one of the lucky ones others who have met with these fraudsters have been kidnaped, and held for ransom (13 ).
A report from Dallas Texas gives more evidence even the most Savvy of us can be taken. A Dallas real estate developer lost $100,000. A Dallas businessman lost 300,000. A Dallas lawyer lost 1 million dollars. (14 ).
Chelsea Clinton's (President Clintons daughter) boyfriend's father former Congressman Edward Mezvinsky got caught up in a 419 scam. He eventually started stealing from his clients to cover these schemes. He was caught and sent to prison for seven years he lost 3 million over the 419 and other schemes (15 ).