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:
- An email address listed inside this email has been used in a known fraud before.
- 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:
- "into your nominated bank account" (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)
- "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)
- ",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)
- "united state dollar" (this email uses bad English)
- "is 100% risk free" (almost true for the criminal trying to scam you - arrests of online criminals are rare)
- "barrister" (Barristers (lawyers) mentioned in 419 scams are always fake.)
- "barr." (Barristers (lawyers) mentioned in 419 scams are always fake.)
- "lagos" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- This email message is a next of kin scam.
- Barristers (lawyers) mentioned in 419 scams are always fake.
- 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 (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: "BARRISTER MARTINS JOHN" (may be fake)
Date: Fri, 20 Jul 2012 12:47:47 -0500
Subject: MARTINS JOHN & ASSOCIATES// Ref..........181
MARTINS JOHN & ASSOCIATES
SOLICITORS AND ADVOCATES
214/ GRE APPAPA LAGOS NIGERIA.
POST CODE 23401
PRIVATE EMAIL: (email@example.com)
Complements!!. firstly, I must apologize for barging into your mailbox without a formal introduction of myself to you. Actually, I got your contact information from a reputable business/professional directory of your country which gives me assurance of your legibility as a person while trying to get a good and capable
business person in your country for both business and investment purposes. Let me start by introducing myself; I am Barrister MARTINS JOHN (Esq.) I was the Personal Attorney to
late Mr. Morris Thompson an American who was a private businessman in my country unfortunately lost his life in the plane crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261 which crashed on
January 31st 2007, including his wife and only daughter.
Before the plane crash, Mr. Morris Thompson made a deposit value of US$
20,000,000.00 (TWENTY MILLION UNITED STATE DOLLARS) in the STANDARDTRUST BANK OF NIGERIA Upon maturity several notice was sent to him, another notification was sent and still
no response came from him. I later found out that Mr. Morris Thompson and his family had been killed in that plane crash. After further investigation it was also discovered that
Mr. Morris Thompsons next of kin was his daughter who died with him in the crash. What borders me most is that according to the laws of my country at the expiration of 8 years
the funds will revert to the ownership of the NIGERIA GOVERNMENT, if nobody applies to claim the funds. Against this backdrop, my suggestion to you is that I will like you as a
foreigner to stand as the next of kin to Mr. Morris Thompson so that you will be able to receive these funds for both of us. WHAT IS TO BE DONE?
I want you to know that I have had everything planned out so that we shall come out successfully. As a barrister, I will prepare the necessary document that will back you up as
the next of kin to Mr. Morris Thompson. PLEASE YOU HAVE TO PROVIDE YOUR FULL INFORMATION SUCH AS STATED BELOW,
 OCCUPATION STATUS:
Also be informed that this Transaction will take us just 15 working days to accomplish beginning from when I receive your Datas. After you have been made the next of kin, I
will also file an application to the bank on your behalf as soon as I secure the necessary approval and letter of probate in your favor for the movement of the funds to an
account that will be provided by you. This process is 100% risk free as I have set out all the modalities to see that a legalized method is used because then I will prepare all
the necessary documents.
Please note that utmost secrecy and confidentiality is required at all times during this transaction.
Once the funds have been transferred into your nominated bank account we shall share in the ratio of 55% for me, 45% for you. If you are not interested, please delete this
letter so that I can scout for another competent partner to conclude this transaction. Should you be interested please send me your full names, telephone, fax number and email
address as stated above. I will prefer that you reach me via this email address: (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Your earliest response to this letter will be appreciated.
Barr. MARTINS JOHN