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Nigeria joins antiscam effort

U.K., Nigerian officials warn Net users about the long-standing problem of e-mails that try to con recipients out of money.

British and Nigerian officials are teaming up to warn Internet users of fraudulent e-mails that try to con recipients into handing over cash.

The so-called Nigerian 419 scams have been a problem for a number of years; the partnership issued a statement Friday warning people about e-mails that "ask for help in moving large sums of money in exchange for a share of the spoils."

Christine Wade, director of consumer regulation enforcement for the U.K. Office of Fair Trading, said in a statement: "If you are targeted, recognize the 419 for what it is--an attempt to defraud you. Do not reply and do not give your personal details out. You are not about to become rich. These scams bear the hallmarks of professional criminals--use your common sense and don't become their next victim."

The scams were named "419ers" after the relevant section of the Nigerian criminal code. Many, but not all, originate from Nigeria and other West African nations.

Last month, Microsoft announced a partnership with the Nigerian government to help track down and prosecute criminals involved in the scams and other Internet-based fraud originating there.

Nuhu Ribadu, the executive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission of Nigeria, said in a statement that "419 and other Nigerian variants of cybercrime have done unquantifiable damage to Nigeria's image and credibility. The government has resolved to deal a fatal blow to the cybercrime networks operating from Nigeria and the West African sub-region."

The commission said it will be monitor cybercafes and take on a "significant" number of cases against such criminals based in Nigeria.

Nigeria has agreed to work with the other 26 member countries involved in the antispam effort known as the London Action Plan. (Click here for PDF.)

Dan Ilett of Silicon.com reported from London.