Originally published to Helium.net
The 411 scam is generally known to most of the world as Advance-fee fraud, or a 419 Scam. Traditionally 419 scams originate from Nigeria, and the name refers to the section under the Nigerian criminal code that such a crime applies to. Quite when the term 411 scam became popular is unclear, but the American Dialect society has traced the term '419 Fraud' back to 1992.
A 419 Scam is a confidence trick intended to persuade the mark to part with money in order to reap greater rewards. The original 419 scams were sent by Letter, Telex and Fax as a result of the Nigerian Oil Crisis in the 1980's. The original marks were businessmen wishing to make money from illegal deals, but this soon expanded to include Western Businessmen. With the advent of wider E-mail use came a new form with which a scam could be executed, the target audience also grew to include the population as a whole.