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:
- "barr." (Barristers (lawyers) mentioned in 419 scams are always fake.)
- "dormant account" (Banks mentioned in 419 scams are always fake (real banks don't communicate using mobile phones or free webmail addresses))
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
Fraud email example:
From: "John Asante" <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, 5 Sep 2009 16:12:01 +0200 (CEST)
Subject: Your assistance is highly needed
My name is John Asante; Im a lawyer in the city of Accra, Ghana (Western
Coast of Africa). I write this letter in a need of a next of kin for the
sum of $955,000 deposited with a bank here in my country, Ghana.
With the policy guiding unclaimed funds, all dormant accounts are
automatically claimed as property of the government at the expiration of
five (5) years.
Haven carried out a research; I discovered that the deceased/my client (an
expatriate) died without probating the estate fund with the bank. I
therefore request you to lay claim to this fund and I will guide you in