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"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:

Fraud email example:

From: "MTN Play" (may be fake)
Reply-To: <>
Date: Wed, 15 Sep 2010 10:43:47 +0100
Subject: Congratulation!!!

Dear Lucky Winner,
Your e-mail address has won US$ 500,000.00 (Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars Only). This is from a total cash prize of US$ 5, 000,000.00 (Five Million United States Dollars) shared amongst the lucky winners in this grand category.
File claim for your winnings immediately by contacting our Financial Controller using the information below:
The Financial Controller,
MTN Play
Name: JAMES K. Ade
All participants were selected randomly from the World Wide Web (WWW) through computer draw system and extracted from over 200,000 companies. This promotion takes  place periodically and no ticket is sold. This lottery scheme is organized to encourage the use of the internet and promote computer literacy worldwide.
All winnings must be claimed and received on/before Monday, Sep 20, 2010. You have been assigned a unique ID below:
REF #: 88/231
For security reasons, you are advised to keep your winning information confidential till your claims is processed and you gain proper identification as our original  winner. Send an email with your reference number to our controller now for complete instructions on how to receive your winning as appropriate. Congratulations from our entire team.
Yours faithfully,
Mary Greco
International Relations Dept.
MTN Play

Anti-fraud resources: