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)
- "your payment is being processed" (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 united states 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)
- "you are advise to" (this email uses bad English)
- "barr." (Barristers (lawyers) mentioned in 419 scams are always fake.)
- "central bank of nigeria" (the name of a person or institution often appearing in 419 scams)
- "lagos" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- "certified bank draft" (Beware of any scheme that involves cashing checks or money orders and then wiring a portion of the funds somewhere - you'll be liable for the entire amount if the checks or money orders turn out to be fake, even after you have received and forwarded cash. If it's a lottery prize, remember that real lotteries do not pay large prizes by check. They wire the money directly to your bank account and you do not pay for that. Many scammers promise a large check only in order to then demand payment of courier fees for a fake courier service. )
- 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: "Barr. Mrs. Alfred Mary," (may be fake)
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2011 18:49:08 -0800
Subject: FOREIGN PAYMENT INVESTIGATING UNIT.
FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA
TINUBU SQUARE LAGOS
From the Desk Of:
Barr. Mrs. Alfred Mary,
LEGAL ADVISER (CBN)
PAYMENT INVESTIGATING UNIT.
From the records of outstanding payment with the Federal Government of
Nigeria, your name was discovered as next on the list of The outstanding
beneficiaries who have not received their payments.
I wish to inform you that your payment is being processed and will be
released to you as soon as you respond to this letter. Also note that from
my record in my file your outstanding payment is US$10.5, (Ten Million
Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars only) Please re-confirm to me
if this is Online with what you have in your record and also re-confirm
to me the followings.
1) Your full name.
2) Phone, fax and mobile #.
3) company\'s name,position and address.
4) profession, age and marital status.
5) Copy of int\'l passport or any scanned identity to prove yourself.
As soon as this information\'s are received, your payment will be made to
you in a certified bank draft from central bank of Nigeria and a copy will
be given to you for you to take to your bank and confirm it,
YOU ARE ADVISE TO CONTACT Barr. Mrs. Alfred Mary TELEX DEPARTMENT OF CENTRAL
BANK OF NIGERIA SHE IS IN CHARGE OF THE BENEFICIARIES FUNDS: Tel: +234
THIS WILL ENABLE THIS OFFICE TO EFFECT YOUR PAYMENT.
Barr. Mrs. Alfred Mary,
LEGAL ADVISER TO CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA (CBN)