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:
- "western union" (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. )
- "money gram" (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. )
- ",000,000" (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)
- "united state dollar" (this email uses bad English)
- "is 100% risk free" (almost true for the criminal trying to scam you - arrests of online criminals are rare)
- "courier service" (Courier companies mentioned in 419 scams are always fake. They will have you send money to them, but won't deliver anything. )
- "courier company" (Courier companies mentioned in 419 scams are always fake. They will have you send money to them, but won't deliver anything. )
- "certified bank draft" (Beware of any scheme that involves cashing checks or money orders and then wiring a portion of the funds somewhere - you'll be liable for the entire amount if the checks or money orders turn out to be fake, even after you have received and forwarded cash. If it's a lottery prize, remember that real lotteries do not pay large prizes by check. They wire the money directly to your bank account and you do not pay for that. Many scammers promise a large check only in order to then demand payment of courier fees for a fake courier service. )
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
- Western Union money transfer is completely untraceable and therefore is *not* safe to use with anyone you do not know personally. It is the preferred method of online criminals to collect money from their victims.
- MoneyGram money transfer is completely untraceable and therefore is *not* safe to use with anyone you do not know personally. Along with Western Union it is a preferred method of online criminals to collect money from their victims.
- 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.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: Grace White <email@example.com>
Date: Sun, 18 Apr 2010 11:11:57 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: YOUR PAYMENT NOTIFICATION OF $1.000.000.00 BY WAFIU
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington , DC 20520
Greeting from USA Embassy,
The UNITED STATE EMBASSY in London, Nigeria, Benin Republic, Ghana and Bokinafaso received a report of scam against you and other European /US citizens and ASIA, whom the country of African Units And UK(London)Anti-Crime Squad have recompensed you due to meeting held with Four countries Government and the world high commissions against fraud activities by the Four country Citizens.Your name was among those scammed as listed by the West African Financial Intelligent Unit (WAFIU).
A compensation has been issued out in a certified bank draft to all the affected victims and has been in distribution already to all the bearers. Your draft was among those that was reported undelivered as of last week Friday and we wish to advise you to see to the instructions of the Committee to make sure you receive your bank draft immediately for your usage.
According to the number of applicants at hand,184 Beneficiaries has been paid, half of the victims are from the United States,we still have more 37 left to be paid the compensations of ($1,000,000.00 USD) One Million United State Dollar's each. Your particulars was retrieved from one of the Syndicates who was arrested as one of their victims of the operations,you are hereby warned not to communicate or duplicate this message to him for any reason whatsoever as the U.S. secret service is already on trace of the other criminals. So keep it secret till they are all apprehended. Other victims who have not been contacted can submit their application as well for scrutiny and possible consideration.
WAFIU further told us that the use of Nigeria Couries and the Benin was abolished due to interception activities noticed in the above mentioned courier services in Benin,Nigeria and Ghana and there by have made a concrete arrangement with the DHL Courier Company for a safe delivery to your door-step once the beneficairy meets up the demand of the conveyancy.
Since the Federal Bureau of Investigation is involved in this transaction, you have to be rest assured for this is 100% risk free it is our duty to protect the American Citizens and other Europian countries worldwide. All I want you to do is to contact Mr Francis Westlaw via email, for their requirements to proceed regarding the delievery of your bank draft,which will cost you $125.00 only.So your files would be updated after which he will send the payment informations which you will use in making payment of $125.00 via Western Union Money Transfer or Money Gram Transfer for the shipment of your bank draft,after you make the payment,The delivery of your bank draft will be effected to your designated home address without any further delay.
Contact DHL via below information
Attn: Dr. Francis WestLaw
Dept: Lugistics/Freight Unit
Company: DHL Express LTD
DHL EXPRESS COURIER Need your contact information, whereby they will deliver your bank draft of ($1.000.000.00) to you, below is the needed information, for the delivery of your bank draft
Your Full Name
Your Current Telephone number
Your Home Address
We advise that you do the needful to make sure the WAFIU dispatche your recompense on before 21 Offical Working Days.
You are assured of the safety of your draft and availability and be advised that you should stop further contacts with all the fake lawyers, Western Union and security companies,scammers Bank who in collaboration scammed you.
Get back To us immediately Yours in Service,
U.S. Department of State