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)
- "hundred thousand us dollars" (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)
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
Fraud email example:
From: "VINCENT" (may be fake)
Date: Wed, 10 Jun 2009 02:24:19 +0100
Subject: URGENT RESPONSE IS NEEDED.
I am an account officer with a bank here in Ghana. I have gathered an
amount totaling five million six hundred thousand US dollars from
recent excess commissions and taxes on funds under my care. The fund
is presently mine and does not belong to the bank anymore and will be
released to whoever I nominate.
I therefore wish to ask that you help me receive the funds so we can
invest it after its release. I am willing to offer you 30% of the
funds and I assure you that this transaction is purely legal and
genuine and will only take about 10 days from when we commence to be
concluded. I'll furnish you with more details as soon as I hear from