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:
- An email address listed inside this email has been used in a known fraud before.
- 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)
- "activation fee" (this will cost you money - be careful with upfront payments to anyone you only know through email, especially if they promise you a lot of money. NEVER send money by Western Union or MoneyGram to people you do not know personally - NO EXCEPTIONS! Instant wire transfer services are not meant to be used with strangers because they offer no protection against fraud. That is precisely why the criminals want you send money that way. )
- "courier service" (Courier companies mentioned in 419 scams are always fake. They will have you send money to them, but won't deliver anything. )
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
- This email lists mobile phone numbers. Use of such numbers is typical for scams because they allow criminals to conceal their true location. They can receive calls in an Internet cafe from where they send you emails, while pretending to be in some office.
- This email lists free webmail addresses. Use of such addresses is typical for scams. Lotteries, banks and any but the smallest of companies do not normally use such addresses. Criminals use them to anonymously send and receive email at Internet cafes.
- email@example.com (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: "Mr DESMOND KOLLER" (may be fake)
Date: Wed, 10 Feb 2010 09:57:26 -0800
Subject: Dear Friend
This is to bring to your notice that I have paid the re-activation fee and the delivery of your ATM Card. I paid it because the ATM Card worth of $1.8m has less than Seven days to expire and when it expires, the money will go into Federal Government treasury account.
With that I decided to help you pay off the money so that the ATM Card will not expire, because I trust that when you receive your ATM Card definitely you must pay me back my money and even compensate me for helping you.
Now I want you to contact Pridete Courier Services Niger with your physical address such as
you prefer the delivery to be made so that they can deliver your ATM Card to your designated address without any delay.
Like I stated earlier, The delivery charges has been paid but I did not pay their official keeping fees since they refused. They refused and the reason is that they do not know when you are going to contact them and the demur-rage might have increased. They told me that their keeping fees are $120 per day and I deposited it on Monday 1th OF JAN. 2010.
Below is the Contact Information of the Pridete Courier Services Benin, Contact Person: Mr.Lewis Ford . Pridete Courier Services Benin's E-mail Address: ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) Tel: +2348087400491 Contact them Today to avoid increase of their Official keeping fees and let me know once you receive your ATM card.
Mr DESMOND KOLLER