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.
Click here to report a problem with this page.
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:
- "activation fee" (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. )
- "million united state 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 dollar" (this email uses bad English)
- "dear beneficiary," (this SPAM email was probably sent to thousands of people)
- "(ecowas)" (the name of a person or institution often appearing in 419 scams)
- "cheque " (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: Mrs Linda Obinedo <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sun, 5 Jun 2011 11:25:56 -0700
Subject: YOUR ATM CARD
Good day dear Beneficiary,
How are you? Hope all is well with you and your family? I know that you might have forgotten about this your outstanding fund
due to our mistake on the delivery up till now. I am writing to inform you that your file was found in our office today and
we discovered that youre Cheque of $4.5 Million united state dollars have not been sent to you as it was instructed by
Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
We are very sorry for the mistake and the delay, please bear with us because the fault is from our former secretary who did
not complete the instruction giving by our Boss. My dear, Note that your Cheque has been converted into Master ATM Card to
free it from Expiring, We are hereby informing you that all the necessary arrangement for your ATM MASTER CARD Payment that
is worth $4.5Million United State Dollars has been granted for your payment last week.
Now Your Master ATM Card is well packaged with every legal document to convey it without having any problem with any
Authorities or with your Federal Government so we are here by inviting you to our office so that we can complete the normal
formalities and activation process of your ATM CARD and issue the Secret pin code number to you to enable you make withdrawal
at any ATM MACHINE of your choice nearest to you, as soon as it is activated. But if you can be able to come down here in our
office in person be inform that you are going to pay for the Courier delivery charges and activation fee of your ATM MASTER
CARD, so if you are unable to come down here then you are required to update them with your contact details as stated below
so that they will proceed with the necessary arrangement for the delivery of your ATM MASTER CARD.
1. Your Full name, ________________
2. Your home Address, ______________
3. Your telephone number, ______
4. A copy of your ID, _____________
5. Your age/sex, ____________________
6. Your occupation, __________________
7. Your country, ____________________
Therefore you should contact OUR ATM CARD PAYMENT DEPARTMENT CENTER Immediately on their below, E-mail:( email@example.com )
Contact Person; Mr Alex williams Tel Phone Number; +229-664-85-244 or +229-99-571-490 Try to call him immediately to know
when your ATM CARD will be delivered to you. I am waiting for you to update us as soon as you have received your Master ATM
Thanks and God Bless You.
Mrs Linda Obinedo,
DIRECTOR OF ECO BANK BENIN,