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Supposedly named after a defunct piece of Nigerian Law the 419 scam has been operating in various incarnations for years.
The basic idea is that you're contacted by someone who has access to large sums of money and wishes to move them through your bank account.
In all likelihood there is no charity and you have been robbed off your money by a scammer.
The story goes that they are paid in money orders but are having trouble cashing them; could you please cash the orders and wire the money to Nigeria?
The money extracted from victims in North America, Europe and Australia translates to huge fortunes for the scammers who are willing to put weeks or months of work into getting a good payout. Many scammers are well educated and all are heartless so read on for common African online dating scams and protect yourself. You might be interacting with a man, say, "William Jones" from USA/ UK/ Australia/ Canada or some other Western country.