Many people, in trying to cash in on the millions of dollars promised in the Nigerian schemes, find themselves stealing to fund their investments. Unfortunately, more people are prosecuted for stealing from others to participate in the scheme than for perpetrating the scheme itself. In New Hampshire, Charles Brewster, 51, pleaded guilty to embezzling $73,000 from companies with which he was associated. The money, plus the funds obtained by forging a $120,000 check, was to be invested in a Nigerian oil con. Brewster was convinced the scheme was legitimate. Early in 2002, Shirley Elaine Hangings responded to the 419 schemes by spending her life savings of $30,000 to $70,000 and then passed a bogus check for $228,260 to fund any deficiency. She was sentenced to 16 months in a California state prison. And a law-firm bookkeeper, Anne Marie Post, 57, was charged with embezzling $2.1 million from her Detroit-area employer. She believed that she would receive millions from an official with the Ministry of Mining in South Africa.
According to Wired, statistics presented at the International Conference on Advance Fee (419) Frauds in New York on Sept. 17, 2002, show that approximately 1% of those who receive 419 E-mails (and faxes) are fooled and eventually scammed.