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:
- "necessary legal documents" (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. )
- "million 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)
- "% 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)
- This email message is a next of kin scam.
- 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: "Robert Ronald" (may be fake)
Date: Tue, 20 Apr 2010 13:57:46 +0200
Subject: Confidential Business Relationship
Kindly accept my apology for sending unsolicited mail to you. I believe
you are a highly respected personality, considering the fact that I
sourced your profile from a human resource profile database on your
Though, I do not know to what extent you are familiar with events. Well, I
am a banker in one of the major banks in my country. I am the Personal
Banker to Mr. George Brumley, who used to be a top investor and a
physician here in my country and other part of Africa. He and his entire
family lost their lives on a plane crash in Kenya during their family
Since then I have made several inquiries to your Embassy to locate any of
my client's relatives, this has also proved unsuccessful. After these
several unsuccessful attempts, I decided to trace his relatives over the
Internet to locate any member of his family but to no avail, hence, I
contacted you to assist in repatriating the money (Thirty Million United
States Dollars only) left behind by my late client in my Bank.
Particularly, the board of directors and department of finance knows me
very well as his personal banker and has ask me to present some one to
claim the fund left by my late client. Consequently, this Bank issued me a
notice to provide the Next of Kin to claim the US$30 Million (Thirty
Million United States Dollars only) in their custody within the next ten
official working days.
Since I have been unsuccessful in locating the relatives for over 4 years
now, I seek your consent to present you as the next of kin of the deceased
to claim the fund as the Next of Kin to him so that the Bank will transfer
the fund to your account. Upon receipt of the fund, I will come over to
your country to meet with you for the disbursement of the fund and then
you and I will share the money in this order: 60% will be for me, 40% will
be for you.
I have all the necessary legal documents that can back our claim, we may
make with the Bank. All I require is your honest co-operation to enable us
seeing this deal through. I guarantee that this will be executed under a
legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of the law.
Contact me back Urgent Please.
I will disclose some vital information about the late owner to the funds
including the website of the incident that took his precious life and the
name of my bank once I have gained your trust.
Mr. Robert Ronald