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:
- "atm card department" (this phrase is often used in the ATM card payment scam)
- "million 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)
- "united state of america" (this email uses bad English)
- "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: "MRS. HILLARY CLINTON" (may be fake)
Date: Fri, 20 May 2011 04:41:11 -0700
Subject: !OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY!
UNITED STATE OF AMERICA
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN PAYMENT
RESOLUTION PANEL ON PAYMENT)
I wish to use this medium and my new office to inform you that your CONTRACT/INHERITANCE Payment
of USD$10m (TEN Million Dollars) from CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA and there local banks has been RELEASED
and APPROVED for onward transfer to you via an ATM CARD which you will use to withdraw all the
USD$10m in any ATM SERVICE MACHINE in any part of the world, but the maximum you can withdraw in a
day is USD$10,000 Only
The UNITED STATE OF AMERICA government has mandated CITI BANK OF NIGERIA, to send you the ATM
CARD and PIN NUMBER with other relevant document from our government and British government and the
united nation, You are therefore advice to contact director and the Head of ATM CARD Department of
CITI BANK OF NIGERIA for further instructions and to release your approved ATM CARD to you.
Contact Person: Mr. PHILIP EZE
CITI BANK OF NIGERIA
Phone number: +234-80-89350730
Tell Mr. PHILIP EZE that you received a message from the OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE to send
you the ATM CARD and PIN NUMBER AND ALL THE DOCUMENT which you will use to withdraw your
USD$10 Million Dollars, also send him your direct phone number and contact address where you want
him to send the ATM CARD and PIN NUMBER to you BUT YOU WILL PAY FOR THE LITTLE INSURANCE AND SHIPMENT
FEES FOR DELIVERY.
All the document regards to the release of the fund has been handed over to Mr. PHILIP EZE for
I am very sorry for the delay you have gone through in the past years. Thanks for adhering to
this instruction and once again accept my congratulations.
MRS. HILLARY CLINTON
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE