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:
- "million british pounds" (they want you to be blinded by the prospect of quick money, but the only money that ever changes hands in 419 scams is from you to the criminals)
- ",000,000" (they want you to be blinded by the prospect of quick money, but the only money that ever changes hands in 419 scams is from you to the criminals)
- "00,000.00" (they want you to be blinded by the prospect of quick money, but the only money that ever changes hands in 419 scams is from you to the criminals)
- "your urgent reply" (scammers rush victims so they don't have time to think properly)
- "cotonou" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
Fraud email example:
From: "Leticia Johnson" <email@example.com>
Date: Thu, 4 Aug 2011 14:55:51 +0530 (IST)
Subject: God has chosen you
Attn: Dear Beloved
I am Leticia Johnson, 21 years old young lady currently in a refugee camp
in sierra Leone under the United Nations refugees sierra Leone. My country
of Origin is Cape Verde Island. My parents, Mr.& Mrs. Daniel Johnson who
died on plane crash in December 23rd, 2003 in Cotonou, Benin Republic on
their way to Lebanon.
I write you to seek refugee in your country and to further my education. I
have finished my secondary education and wish to further my education to
Masters level or more. When my parents died in December 2003, i was the
only child and 13 years old then. My parents were hotel management
consultants. Two years after my parents died, my relatives forced me into
marriage against my wish to married a 38 years old man.
My relatives said the man will give me protection as tradition demands in
my country. I never knew the marriage i went into until my first pregnancy
at 16 years old. The man associated with my extended family members and
shared my late parents belongings. When i complained, i was locked me up
in a room and beaten up. The beatings continued until i lost my pregnancy.
None of my relatives said anything positive to help me. I was fast losing
my life until the police rescued and i was legally divorced.
The terror i passed through in the hands of my family members are
tormenting. I cannot go back to them again because my parents are no more
and i have no siblings to share my life with. When i started nursing the
idea of taking refugee i another country, i went to my father's home save
box for my school papers, International passport, and birth
certificate.Also in the boxes that i found papers of my father's bank
Ghana valued at 15,000,000.00 Pounds Sterling (Fifteen Million British
The fund was for a proposed hotel project in Sierra Leone before my father
died. We can work with the fund through getting a university admission for
me. With the University admission, i can get a visa easily and come to
The most important thing is my education. We can invest the fund in a
I wait for your urgent reply.