fighting spam and scams on the Internet
"419" Scam – Advance Fee / Fake Lottery Scam
The so-called "419" scam is a type of fraud dominated by criminals from Nigeria and other countries in Africa. Victims of the scam are promised a large amount of money, such as a lottery prize, inheritance, money sitting in some bank account, etc.
Victims never receive this non-existent fortune but are tricked into sending their money to the criminals, who remain anonymous. They hide their real identity and location by using fake names and fake postal addresses as well as communicating via anonymous free email accounts and mobile phones.
Keep in mind that scammers DO NOT use their real names when defrauding people.
The criminals either abuse names of real people or companies or invent names or addresses.
Any real people or companies mentioned below have NO CONNECTION to the scammers!
Read more about such scams here or in our 419 FAQ. Use the Scam-O-Matic to verify suspect emails.
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Some comments by the Scam-O-Matic about the following email:
- This email uses a separate reply address that is different from the sender address. Spammers use this to get replies even when the original spam sending accounts have been shut down. Also, sometimes the sender addresses are legitimate looking but fake and only the reply address is actually an email account controlled by the scammers.
- The following phrases in this message should put you on alert:
- "dear friend" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- This email message is a next of kin scam.
Fraud email example:
Date: Tue, 12 Oct 2010 18:53:01 -0700
Subject: URGENT ASSISTANCE NEEDED
From: Eric Hoffman
Imperial Finance Limited,
London, United Kingdom
I am Mr. Eric Hoffman, the Auditor General, Imperial Finance Limited UK. In the
course of my auditing, I discovered a floating fund in an account, which was
opened in 1990 belonging to a dead foreigner who died in 1999. Every effort
made to track any member of his family or next of kin has since failed; hence I
got in contact with you to stand as his next of kin since you bear the same
last name. He died leaving no heir or a will.
My intention is to transfer this sum of $15.5M in the aforementioned account to
a safe account overseas. I am therefore proposing that you quietly partner with
me and provide an account or set up a new one that will serve the purpose of
receiving this fund. For your assistance in this venture, I am ready to part
with a good percentage of the entire funds. After going through the deceased
person's records and files, I discovered that:
(1) No one has operated this account since 1999
(2) He died without an heir; hence the money has been floating.
(3) No other person knows about this account and there was no known
If I do not remit this money urgently, it would be forfeited and subsequently
converted to company's funds, which will benefit only the directors of my firm.
This money can be approved to you legally as with all the necessary documentary
approvals in your name. However, you would be required to show some proof of
claim, which I will provide you with and also guide you on how to make your
Please do give me a reply so that I can send you detailed information on the
modalities of my proposition. I completely trust you to keep this proposition
absolutely confidential. Kindly forward your telephone number where I can reach
you easily. I look forward to your prompt response.
Mr. Eric Hoffman
Imperial Finance Limited
London, United Kingdom