The expression "He is a 419 guy", in Nigerian local parlance, means the person in question is a fraudster or confidence trickster. It draws from the section of our penal code that bears the punitive description for crimes of fraud and obtaining under false pretenses.
This expression has since gone global and viral as a descriptive for Nigerian scams and fraud abroad. It has become the ugly face of Nigeria internationally. It has also become a form of obsession for some folks to maintain if he is Nigerian, he must be a scammer of sorts. But of course, it goes without saying that this is as misconceived as saying if he is Italian, he must be Mafiosi or if he is Irish, he must make bombs.
I have heard quite a few of these expressions. Like in "He can't be Russian, where's his Vodka bottle?" or "He looks British, ask him for the nearest Fish 'N Chips" and "He's blonde, he must be Swedish". But the most perplexing yet, for me to date, is "If he's American, he must be Israeli!"
These qualitative expressions exist for all climes but it is a little too much to bear for Nigeria to be officially certified by FIFA as 419! All puns are clearly intended but they do not detract from the fact that the irony here is irresistibly challenging. In 13 past World cup matches, Nigeria has won 4, drawn 1 and lost 8. With our loss to Korea, Nigeria has now won 4, drawn 1 and lost 9. This makes for a FIFA certified rating of 419!
Well, what can one say? I don't think I would be saying "thank you" much to the boys for bringing home this 419 trophy from SA 2010 but truth be told, we did reap what we sowed. We sowed inepitude, corruption and fraud aided by a dubious and manipulated selective quota system to reap failure with a capital F!