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:
- 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:
- "power of attorney" (with your bank details and a power of attorney form criminals sometimes empty bank accounts)
- "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.
- Barristers (lawyers) mentioned in 419 scams are always fake.
- 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: "George Mckenzie" <email@example.com>
Date: Sun, 02 May 2010 23:55:32 +0700
Subject: SEE INFORMATION
The information contained in this message is confidential and is intended
to create a mutually beneficial business relationship between us.
I am George Mckenzie a staff of HSBC British Virgin Islands. I suffered
stroke and now receiving treatment in a herbal home and have been here
since I fell sick and my anxiety is becoming unbearable because of my ill
I need your assistance to liaise with my Son Dean Mckenzie and receive an
investment capital of US$9,678,000.00 =Nine Million Six Hundred and Seventy
Eight Thousand U.S Dollars Only= to your country.
As a professional trader who generate a reliable and regular income from
share trading by sticking to, and mastering, only a small number of
straight forward but powerful trading techniques. I generate millions of
dollars for my bank and companies who are trading under HSBC.
The money accrued from stock trading proceeds. I floated a company here and
applied for stock trading loan which was granted and I traded for a period
of 11 months with a profit of US$9,678,000 which have been approved and
paid to the company through CHINA BANK as bank of choice with Certified
The loan have been cleared, but we cannot clear the draft through any bank
locally due to specific reasons:
(1) I can not receive such a huge amount in my personal account as an
employee of a bank
(2) The company has no functional bank account because I floated it as a
foreign company but I can give an authorization letter/power of attorney to
any beneficiary to receive the money on behalf of the company with the help
of the lawyer who is processing the payment for the company.
My Son have all the company registration documents and registration number
also will provide every legal evidence here in BVI for you to receive the
fund on behalf of the registered company through CHINA BANK.
This transaction is straight forward and transparent, the whole process
will take few days to complete and it is going to be between you and my Son
Dean. The fund would be released to you as the beneficiary, upon conclusion
of the transaction, my Son will meet you in your country for investment
with 60% of the total amount then the remaining 40% will to go to you for
Thanks for your understanding.
Please reply to this email: firstname.lastname@example.org