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Armed with their fake identity, the scammer proceeds to forge a bond with you.
They often communicate with you for weeks and months so you think you are getting to know them better while it is actually all part of their master plan.
Like all scams, there is a last minute problem and you will be requested to send some money to ensure everything goes smoothly.
Needless to say that is the last you will hear of your apparent fortune.
Similar to the Spanish prisoner scam where the scamster promises to share his fortunes with the victim in exchange for money to bribe the prison guards, the Nigerian 419 has fully come into its own thanks to the availability of email.
Sometimes scammers figure out you are onto them but instead of backing off, they take advantage of the situation by pretending to be the police.
The money could be cash, gold bullion, blood diamonds, gold dust, checks etc.
The sums usually run up to millions of dollars with the victim being promised a huge chunk of it for their "help".
The subject lines often read something similar to "From the desk of Mr [name]" or even "Your assistance is solicited".
While the stories may vary slightly, the general plot then talks of a person (usually a corrupt government employee) who has come across a large sum of money and needs your assistance to get the funds out of the country.
These scammers know immigration rules and regulations well and might even cite some sort of visa requirement as their reason for requesting money.