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:
- "clear source of funds certificate" ("anti-terrorist", "anti-money laundering" or "drug-free" certificates are a common way for criminals in fake lottery scams and other Advance Fee scams to get you to send money to them. There are no such certificates in the real banking world. )
- "insurance 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. )
- ",000,000" (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)
- "00,000.00" (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)
- "high court" (Barristers (lawyers) mentioned in 419 scams are always fake.)
- "courier service" (Courier companies mentioned in 419 scams are always fake. They will have you send money to them, but won't deliver anything. )
- "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 fake lottery scam. Consider the following facts about real lotteries:
- They don't notify winners by email.
- You can't win without first buying a lottery ticket.
- They don't randomly select email addresses to award prizes to.
- They don't use free email accounts (Yahoo, Hotmail, etc) to communicate with you.
- They don't tell you to call a mobile phone number.
- They don't tell you to keep your winnings secret.
- They will never ask a winner to pay any fees to receive a prize!
- 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.
- This email lists free webmail addresses. Use of such addresses is typical for scams. Lotteries, banks and any but the smallest of companies do not normally use such addresses. Criminals use them to anonymously send and receive email at Internet cafes.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Gmail/GoogleMail; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: "MR. PAUL ROGERS," <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, 22 Oct 2011 11:28:52 +0300
Subject: Attention:Beneficiary...Your Compensation Of $8,000,000.00.
I have been informed by the CHEVRON/ LTD to anticipate your message as this office has been assigned to handle the payment of yourgrant
donation prize and also to alert you that your previous mail was received here on this office desk and content clearly documented.I would
advise you follow the instructions given to you and your Donation parcelwill be sent to you fully sealed within the next 24hours. A cheque
has been issued in your name and we have concluded the processing of all documents t hat will facilitate the clearance of the cheque in your
This documents includes the following:
1.DONATION CHEQUE VALUED THE SUM OF US$8,000,000.00. 2.DONATION CERTIFICATE FROM THE CHEVRON/TEXACO EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTIONCOMPANY LTD
(CTEPC).3.CLEAR SOURCE OF FUNDS CERTIFICATES(C.S.F.C.) 4.LETTER OF AFFIDAVITS FROM THE NIGERIAN HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE, STATING THATTHE
DONATION WAS RECEIVED LEGALLY FROM THE UNIVERSAL DONATION PROGRAMME, ANDDULY SIGNED BY THE LEGAL ATTORNEY TO THE ECOWAS.
These documents have been securely sealed and packed for security reasons which makes it impossible for anyone to view it until its been
deliveredto you. Find below our delivery options which you are required to choose the one that is most convenient to you to enable the
delivery of your parcel tothe address which is sent by you to this office.
I want you to indicate once more your mode of delivery for the purpose of documentation in thethe ECOWAS HEAD OFFICE.
DHL Cost of delivery
Mailing: US $100.00
FEDEX Cost of delivery
VAT US $10.00
Insurance: US $200.00
RHODEVILLE COURIER SERVICE Cost of delivery
All three options are 24hours delivery after shipment
NB: THE INSURANCE FEE (US$200:00) IS ABSOLUTELY COMPULSORY, AND MUST BEPAID BEFORE THE SHIPMENT OF YOUR PARCEL WHILE THE MAILING FEE SHOULD
BEPAID TO THE DELIVERY AGENT THAT WILL DELIVER YOUR PARCEL TO YOUR DOORSTEP).
Due to the diplomatic content of your parcel, it will be illegal to sendit without being insured as it will violate the federal delivery
rulesgoverning diplomatic parcel delivery. This means payment for the insurancefee must be made before the parcel is sent to avoid risk.
This is becauseof some bad experience we had in the past.
We can not afford to re-issue your cheque if anything goes wrong. In this case payment for the insurance fee is absolutely compulsory,
while the mailing fee should be paid to any of the above listed delivery company you choose at the point of delivery. Your prize is
protected by a hardcover insurance policy, which makes itimpossible to deduct any amount from the money before remittance.
This means that the above insurance charges cannot be deducted from the prizeand hence must be provided by you before your parcel is
This isin accordance with section 13(1)(n) of the international gambling act asadopted in 1993 andamended on 3RD july 1996 by the
constitutional assembly.This is to protectreceipients and to avoid misappropriation of funds.
You have to contact PAYMENT STAFF AT THE ECOWAS HEAD OFFICE now with your information and choice of delivery company among the list above
for the delivery of your package with this information bellow;
CONTROLLER: Mr.Kim Williams
NAME: PAYMENT STAFF ECOWAS HEAD OFFICE
EMAIL ADRESS: firstname.lastname@example.org
OFFICE NUMBER: +2348088-656-777.
1, Full Name...........................
2, Address of Residence:.................
3, country from:..................
4, Telephone Number:..................
Kindly give me a call immediately you receive this mail .
MR. PAUL ROGERS,
ECONOMIC COMMUNITY OF WEST AFRICAN STATES ECOWAS HEAD OFFICE