A 419 scam is an everyday occurrence. It is an attempt to steal money from people based on the premise that extra money will be gained if they advance a small amount of money. Many people fall prey to this scam and are left with a number of legal questions about their rights, the law and the legal recourse available to them. Here are the top questions on the topic answered by Lawyers.
Q. What is a 419 scam?
When a person gains something from another through deception or deceit, it is considered fraud. Explained legally, “it is a material misrepresentation of fact that is known to be false by the person making the misrepresentation, and intends the misrepresentation will be acted upon out of ignorance about the falsification.” A 419 scam is a fraudulent activity that involves paying more than the cost for at an auction, or an attempt to steal money through a false promise that the person paying the money would gain even more money when they pay a small amount.
Q. Can the bank still sue a person if a 419 scam case was dismissed by a criminal court?
In such a situation, the bank might still have a valid civil claim that covers issues like conversion, breach of contract, etc. The bank could try to collect the money by filing a civil case. If the court finds that they have a valid claim, you may have to appear in a civil trial to determine whether or not you need to pay the bank. However, the burden of proof in a civil suit is normally not as high as it is in a criminal case.
Q. Would it be better to with Corporate Security or refuse comment when faced with a case?
The law requires every citizen to morally and legally cooperate with corporate security. As per the law, a citizen should provide all the information that they seek. This could involve provision of records, testifying in court, signing sworn affidavits, etc.
However, it is important to remember that most situations are unique. If statements you make or details you provide are likely to implicate you in the case, you may need to consider retaining the services of legal counsel.
Q. Can a 419 scam victim write off the money as investment fraud, loss or theft?
When a person loses money as a result of a 419 scam, it is considered as a personal casualty loss. While you are allowed to deduct some losses in the year when you actually discovered the loss, there are limitations to this. If the loss can be reimbursed or if there is a chance of recovery of the loss, deduction would not be possible. Also, you can only deduct property if you have a tax basis in it. What this means is that, if you lost money out of your pre-tax assets, you cannot deduct that loss.
Q. If I get a letter from a British law firm requesting me to send money, would it be a 419 Scam?
There are many forms of scams originating out of Nigeria and other West African countries where they use fake British law firm identities. Whenever you get a request for money from someone you are not personally aware of, it is always a good idea to verify with the Better Business Bureau or the FBI before taking any kind of action.
A number of scams start with an email. If you are not sure of the validity of the email, you should not send money. Scamming and fraud are criminal offenses. If you are concerned about being a victim of a 419 scam, mail fraud or any other kind of fraud, you should ask an expert to provide legal insights that can help you take the best course of legal action available to you.