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:
- "will come to you as a surprise" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "courier company" (Courier companies mentioned in 419 scams are always fake. They will have you send money to them, but won't deliver anything. )
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
Fraud email example:
From: "Gary Olsen" (may be fake)
Date: Tue, 1 Mar 2011 23:19:31 -0800
Subject: GET BACK TO ME,
I KNOW THIS WILL COME TO YOU AS A SURPRISE BECAUSE YOU DO NOT KNOW ME. I
AM MR. GARY OLSEN; I WORK IN HSBC BANK LONDON, PACKAGING AND COURIER
DEPARTMENT. I GOT YOUR CONTACT AMONG OTHERS FROM A SEARCH INTO THE
INTERNET AND WAS INSPIRED TO SEEK YOUR CO OPERATION I WANT YOU TO HELP ME
CLEAR THIS PACKAGE IS ALREADY IN AMERICA WHICH I SHIPPED THROUGH OUR HSBC
ACCREDITED COURIER AGENT BUT THE CONTENTS THE COURIER COMPANY DOES NOT
KNOW THAT IT IS MONEY THAT I HAVE IN THE PACKAGE. ALL I WANT YOU TO DO
FOR ME NOW IS THIS GIVE ME YOUR MAILING ADDRESS, YOUR PRIVATE PHONE AND
FAX, AND I HOPE THAT AT THE END OF THE DAY, YOU WILL HAVE 30% AND 70% WILL
BE FOR ME.
MY IDENTITY MUST NOT BE REVEALED TO ANYBODY.
 Full Names:
 Contact address:
 Cell phone:
 Home Phone.
 Date of birth:
IF THIS ARRANGEMENT IS OKAY BY YOU, YOU CAN E-MAIL ME, FOR SECURITY
REASONS OTHER MODALITIES WILL BE DISCUSSED AS SOON AS YOU GET BACK TO ME
INCLUDING SENDING OF THE KEYS TO THE BOXES TO YOU. NOTE: COMMUNICATION
SHOULD BE STRICTLY THROUGH MY PRIVATE E-MAIL FOR SECURITY REASONS.
GOD BLESSES YOU FOR YOUR HELP.