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:
- "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)
- "lagos" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- This email message is a next of kin scam.
- 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: "ERIC HOWARD" (may be fake)
Date: Mon, 22 Mar 2010 23:36:15 +0100
Subject: URGENT AND YOUR REPLY IS APPRECIATED
MR ERIC HOWARD
AUDIT CONTROL UNIT
CITIZENS INT'L BANK PLC
LETTER OF MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING
I AM GRATEFUL TO REACH YOU AT LAST AFTER MAKING SO MUCH EFFORT TO INFORM YOU OF YOUR INHERITANCE WITH OUR BANK. FIRST AND FOREMOST, I WILL LIKE TO INTRODUCE MYSELF AS MR ERIC HOWARD.
I AM A BANKER AND AN ACCOUNTANT WITH CITIZENS INT'L BANK NIGERIA PLC. I WAS THE THE ACCOUNT OFFICER TO LATE ENGINEER (SCOTT), A NATIONAL OF YOUR COUNTRY, WHO WAS A CONTRACTOR WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF PETROLEUM RESOURCES VICTORIA ISLAND,LAGOS.
WHO HEREIN AFTER SHALL BE REFERRED TO AS MY CLIENT. ON THE 3OTH OF JANUARY 2000, HE WAS INVOLVED IN THE CRASH OF KENYA AIRWAYS FLIGHT 431 ALONGSIDE HIS WIFE AND THREE CHILDREN. THE PLANE DEPARTED NAIROBI KENYA TO LAGOS ON THE FATEFUL DAY AND ALL THE FAMILY DIED IN THIS FATAL AIR CRASH.
SINCE THEN, I HAVE MADE NUMEROUS ATTEMPT TO LOCATE OTHER MEMBERS OF MY CLIENTS FAMILY TO NO AVAIL. I ALSO TRIED THE EMBASSY WITHOUT SUCCESS.
AFTER SEVERAL UNSUCCESSFUL ATTEMPTS, I DECIDED TO TRANCE THE LAST NAME OVER THE INTERNET. THIS IS WHY I CONTACTED YOU. MY REASON FOR CONTACTING YOU IS TO HELP IN REPATRIATING THE MONEY AND PROPERTIES LEFT BEHIND BY MY LATE CLIENT BEFORE IT IS CONFISTICATED BY THE GOVERNMENT OR THE BANK WHERE THIS HUGE MONEY IS LODGED,
PARTICULARLY CITIZENS INT'L BANK NIGERIA PLC WHERE THE DECEASED HAD AN ACCOUNT VALUED AT US$12.6M (TWELVE MILLION, SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND US DOLLARS). THE BANK HAS ISSUED ME A NOTICE TO PROVIDE THE NEXT OF KIN OR HAVE THE ACCOUNT ANNULLED WITHIN THE NEXT FIFTEEN WORKING DAYS.
SINCE I HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO LOCATE THE FAMILY MEMBERS FOR THE PAST SEVEN YEARS RUNNING, I SEEK TO PRESENT YOU AS THE NEXT OF KIN TO MY LATE CLIENT SINCE YOU HAVE THE SAME LAST NAME SO THAT THE PROCEED FROM THIS ACCOUNT VALUED AT US$12.6M CAN BE PAID TO YOU. THEN AFTER WE CAN SPLIT THE MONEY 50% EACH AFTER IRS HAS BEEN DEDUCTED.
THE TRANSFER EXPENSES WILL BE SHARED EQUALLY TOO.
ALL I REQUIRE OF YOU NOW IS YOUR HONEST COOPERATION TO ENABLE US SEE THIS DEAL THROUGH. I GUARANTEE THAT THIS TRANSACTION WILL BE EXECUTED UNDER A LEGITIMATE ARRANGEMENT THAT WILL PROTECT YOU AND I FROM ANY BREACH OF THE LAW.
ALSO SEND TO ME YOUR MOST PRIVATE TELEPHONE NUMBER TO ENABLE ME CALL YOU FOR MORE INFORMATION IF THE NEED ARISES.
NOTE: I RECOMMEND YOU SEND YOUR RESPONSE TO MY PRIVATE EMAIL FOR CONFIDENTIAL REASONS AND BECAUSE OF MY POSITION HERE IN THE BANK. ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
MR ERIC HOWARD