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)
- "please indicate your interest" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "utmost confidentiality" (scammers urge victims to keep the transaction secret because they don't want anyone to point out to them that it is a scam)
- "there is no risk involved" (almost true for the criminal trying to scam you - arrests of online criminals are rare)
- "nigeria national petroleum corporation" (the name of a person or institution often appearing in 419 scams)
- "lagos" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
Fraud email example:
From: "Mr.David Okoh." <firstname.lastname@example.org> (may be fake)
Date: Tue, 4 May 2010 09:14:46 +0100 (BST)
Subject: From: Mr.David Okoh
From: Mr.David Okoh
Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC)
49 Road Close A House 14,
Dolphin Estate, Ikoyi,
I am sorry for contacting you through this medium without any privious
notice. I am a senior staff with Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation,
(NNPC). My colleagues and I intentionally over-invoiced a contract award
to the tune of $25m. All arrangements have been concluded on how to
transfer this fund into a safe foreign account after the original
contractor has been fully paid. By virtue of our civil service code of
conduct, serving officers are not allowed to operate foreign bank
This is why I am seeking for your mutual involvement to work with me in
getting the over-invoiced sum (US$25m) transfered into your foreign bank
account for our benefit. Please indicate your interest via email hence
other modalities will be discussed. There is no risk involved and the fund
approval will have a full legal backup.
Please treat with utmost confidentiality.