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:
- "from the desk of" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "clearance document" (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. )
- "transfer of your funds" (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)
- "central bank of nigeria" (the name of a person or institution often appearing in 419 scams)
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
- 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.
Fraud email example:
From: "Mr. Thomas Adeniran" (may be fake)
Date: Tue, 28 Sep 2010 01:21:41 +0100
Subject: Intercepted Transfer of $10.5Million
>From the Desk of: Thomas Adeniran
Special Adviser to the President,
International Monetary Fund (IMF)
West Africa Regional Headquarter In Nigeria
Intercepted Transfer of $10.5Million
Dear Honourable Beneficiary
I am the special adviser to the President International Monetary Fund (IMF), West African Region in Nigeria,
who is in charge of releasing unpaid fund emanating from Africa, Asia, Europe, Pacific and United States
of America. We noticed you had unpaid funds to the tune of $10.5million. Your funds will be paid to you
from our reserve account with Skye Bank Plc Nigeria within 72hours base on your swift compliance to my
Note we can only pay you through Wire transfer (Bank to Bank). You are advised to indicate your preferred
mode of payment so that we can now register it in our database and necessary arrangement will be made
within 72hours. Be advised that Sanusi Lamido of Central Bank of Nigeria and others has made several
effort to divert your funds to unknown account in Asia but we intercepted their action base on the premise
that we have the sole responsibility to pay you. Call me immediately you receive this email message for oral
and important discussion. Your prompt response will expedite action in the release and transfer of your
funds into any account provided by you.
You are hereby advised to forward the under-listed information to enable us issue you all
Your full name:
Your home address:
Telephone & fax:
Occupation & Position in office:
Looking forward to your earliest response.