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)
- ",500,000" (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)
- "00,000.00" (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)
- "% will be for you" (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)
- This email message is a "dying merchant" scam.
Fraud email example:
From: "Mr. Williams Harrison" <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 2010 09:25:26 -0700
It is indeed my great pleasure to write you this letter, which I believe
it will meet you in good condition of health but i know it will be a
surprise to you as we have never met before, and I am deeply sorry if I
have in any manner disturbed your privacy. Please forgive me and this
unusual manner of contacting you but i just can help it, so i felt i have
to reach you with this letter to support me in order to achieve my dream
for the less privilege ones in our society and the world at large.
My name is Mr. Williams Harrison, A business merchant in United Kingdom,
but am presently under-going treatment here in Malaysia. I have been
diagnosed with esophageal cancer. It has defied all forms of medical
treatment, and right now I have only about a few months to live,
according to medical experts. I have not particularly lived my life so
well, as I never really cared for anyone (not even myself) but only my
business. Though I am very rich, I was never generous, I was always
hostile to people and only focused on my business as that was the only
thing I cared for. Its now i know that no matter how much money you have
it cannot safe life because i have spent millions of dollars on my
illness but to no avail.
But now I regret all this as I now know that there is more to life than
just wanting to have or make all the money in the world. I believe when
God gives me a second chance to come to this world I would live my life a
different way from how I have lived it. Now that God has called me, I have
willed and given most of my property and assets to my immediate and
extended family members as well as a few close friends.
I want God to be merciful to me and accept my soul, so I have decided to
give alms to charity organizations for the less privilege in the society,
as I want this to be one of the last good deeds I do on earth. So far, I
have distributed money to some charity organizations in Somalia and Haiti
before my sickness got worsen to this present state. Now that my health
has deteriorated so badly, I cannot do this myself anymore.
I once asked members of my family to close one of my accounts and
distribute the money which I have there to charity organization in Jamaica
and India; they refused and kept the money to themselves. Hence, I do not
trust them anymore, as they seem not to be contended with what I have left
for them. The last of my money which no one knows of is the huge cash
deposit of Nine Million Five Hundred dollars ($9,500,000.00) that I have
with a private financial company in Amsterdam the Netherlands. I will want
you base on trust to help me collect this deposit and dispatch it to any
charity organizations of your choice.
N/B: KINDLY NOTE THAT 80% of these funds must go to victims of recent
disasters while the balance 20% will be for your effort and time during
the actualization of this transaction. Upon receipt of your response, I
shall communicate with you, and let you know the details of the transfer.
Whatever your actions and your decision, I thank you for taking the time
to read this letter.
I am looking forward to your prompt response.
Mr. Williams Harrison