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)
- "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. )
- "greater london" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "million 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)
- "million 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)
- "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)
- 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.
- +447045757003 (UK, redirects to a mobile phone in another country)
- 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 (Hotmail; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: DR JOHNSON MICHAEL <email@example.com>
Reply-To: DR JOHNSON MICHAEL <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 10 May 2010 08:00:41 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: FROM DR. JOHNSON
I am Dr. Johnson Micheal From Harlesden, North West London , here in
England. I work for Natwest Bank Corporation London, I am writing you
from my office that will be of an immense benefit to both of us. In my
department,being the assistant manager (Greater London Regional Office), I discovered an abandoned sum of $12.5 million US Dollars (Twelve
million five hundred thousand Us Dollars) in an account that belongs to
one of our foreign customers Late Mr. Thompson Morrison. An American
citizen who unfortunately lost his life in the plane crash of Alaska
Airlines Flight 261 which crashed on January 31 2000, including his wife and only daughter.
The choice of contacting you is aroused from the geographical nature
of where you live, particularly due to the sensivity of the transaction. and the confidentiality herein. Now our bank has been waiting for any
of the relatives to come-up for the claim but nobody has done that. I
personally has been unsuccessful in locating the relatives
for 2 years now, I seek your consent to present you as the next of kin
/Will Beneficiary to the deceased so that the proceeds of this account
valued at 12.5 Million Dollars can be paid to you.
This will be disbursed or shared in these percentages,60% to me and
40% to you. I have secured all necessary legal documents that can be
used to back up this claim we are making. All i need is to fill in your
names to the documents and legalize it in the court here to prove you as the legitimate beneficiary. All I require now is your honest
Co-operation,Confidentiality and Trust to enable us see this transaction through. I guarantee you that this will be executed under a legitimate
will protect you from any breach of the law.
Please,provide me the following: as we have 5 days to run it through.
this is very very URGENT PLEASE.
1. Full Name
2. Your Telephone Number
3. Your Contact Address.
4. Reply by my office email address for
urgent response; email@example.com
Having gone through a methodical search, I decided to contact you hoping that you will find this proposal interesting.
Please on your confirmation of this message and indicating your interest will furnish you with more information.
Endeavor to let me know your decision rather than keep me waiting.