Section 420

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Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code also used in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan has become a slang reference for a confidence trickster. Such criminals are called 420 in popular culture in those countries. The section deals with the cases of cheating and awards punishment of fine and/or jail up to 7 years.

A 420 is a person acting fraudulently to cheat somebody out of their belongings; a confidence trickster. Section 420 of the Penal Codes of both India and Pakistan cover such activity. The Penal Codes of both countries are inherited from the Indian Penal Code of 1860 instituted by the colonial government of the British India, which then included the present-day countries of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. A popular 1955 Hindi film from India, Shri 420 (in English: Mr. 420) has a central character who, though innocent, is regarded by many as a con man, hence "Mr. 420".

It is to be noted that the code was also in use in other neighboring countries such as Myanmar, where even today the term 420 means a con-artist. In the Nigerian Criminal Code, the same offense is covered by article 419, which has also given its name to the now ubiquitous advance fee fraud.


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