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.
Click here to report a problem with this page.
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:
- "claims agent" (real lotteries do not use a "claim agent" / "fiduciary agent")
- "million 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)
- "hundred thousand united states 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)
- "firstname.lastname@example.org" (this email address has been used in a known scam)
- "email@example.com" (this email address has been used in a known scam)
- This email message is a fake lottery scam. Consider the following facts about real lotteries:
- They don't notify winners by email.
- You can't win without first buying a lottery ticket.
- They don't randomly select email addresses to award prizes to.
- They don't use free email accounts (Yahoo, Hotmail, etc) to communicate with you.
- They don't tell you to call a mobile phone number.
- They don't tell you to keep your winnings secret.
- They will never ask a winner to pay any fees to receive a prize!
- 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.
Fraud email example:
From: "LOTTO NL" <firstname.lastname@example.org> (may be fake)
Date: Fri, 12 Mar 2010 14:26:02 +0200
Subject: Attn: Dear Award Winner,
AWARD WINNING NOTICE
Amount Won: $2,500 000 .00
Attn: Dear Award Winner,
Your email account has been picked as a winner of a lump sum pay out
Two million five hundred thousand united states dollars ($2,500 000 .00)
Please contact your Claims Agent,from the Oversea Winners Processing
Name: MR.VAN VERRMEER
Phone: 0031 61 7705 833
Fax: 0031 84 733 8594
Poort Bijlmerplein 888 1102MG
Amsterdam The Netherlands
VERIFICATION AND FUNDS RELEASE FORM
Identification I D:
Mrs.Mary Van Dotcha
Copyright © 2010 The Netherlands National Lottery Inc.
It is my pleasure to write you through this medium, I got your email from
a business forum. My name is Martin Robert Byrnes; I am an American, 50
years old and a retired Chief Warrant Officer Five (CW5) in U.S. Central
Command's Headquarter in Iraq . I was a Special Forces Warrant Officer
(CMF 18 MOS) as an Intelligence Analyst under the led Joint Special
Operations Command (JSOC) under the leadership of McChrystal from 2003 to
2008 in Iraq that captured Saddam Hussein in 2003. In 2006 I was part of
the McChrystals Zarqawi unit (Task Force 6-26) that was responsible for
the death of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq .
In 2008 I was made the Financial Management Technician under General David
Petraeus then by the end of 2009, I and my colleague were accused of
embezzling 50million US dollars that was met for Military personnel in
Iraq . I was asked to retire and was court martial. I was given parole
after President Obama took over the leadership of the United States ,
though still under investigation.
I gave a brief description of my self to you so that you know what I am
about to discuss with you must be kept confidential. I want to invest the
money which I embezzled while serving as Financial Management Technician
in your country.
I have these funds 19 million us dollars deposited with the United Nations
somewhere in the Middle East (country name withheld) which I want to
invest in a very lucrative business in your country. I have not been able
to claim it because I have be band for 10 year not to leave the shores of
I am contacting you to assist me in claiming the funds and use it for an
investment that will be lucrative on my behalf. I want you to stand as a
I will explain more to you on how we can achieve this once you are
Please you are to send to me the following:
Scanned copy of passport.
With the above details sent to me I will be sure that you are ready and
I await your swift reply.
Martin Robert Byrnes