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:
- "cotonou" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- "firstname.lastname@example.org" (this email address has been used in a known scam)
- 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: "U.S. Embassy" <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, 12 Feb 2011 03:44:16 -0800 (PST)
Subject: U.S. Embassy
This is Richard Kolker Secretary to U.S. Embassy in Benin Republic.We write to notify you that through the intervention of U.S. Embassy in Benin your fund has been released. Your outstanding dept $2.8M USD own in Africa will now be pay to you. The inherited amount of $2.8M USD is already with U.S. Embassy in Cotonou and you will receive it without any delay. Now kindly contact U.S. Ambassador to Benin James Knight and he will direct you where to collect your payment in your state in UNITED STATES with no delay. Email the following information to the Ambassador as they are vital to your payment as to let him know the nearest payment center in your state.
Your Full Name:_________________
Your State in U.S.:_____________
A copy of your Passport or Driving License:_________
Email the required info to James Knight U.S Ambassador to Benin and you will be directed to nearest payment Center in your state. Below is his contact info.
Name: James Knight (U.S. Ambassador to Benin)