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. )
- "fund beneficiary" (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)
- "robert mueller" (This name is often mentioned in money recovery scams (re-scam): the real FBI will not tell you to contact some email address. If you are in any doubt, contact an FBI field office via www.fbi.gov. )
- "diplomatic agent" ("diplomats" who perform deliveries of cash or other valuables to you only exist in 419 scams)
- "foreign remittance department" (Banks mentioned in 419 scams are always fake (real banks don't communicate using mobile phones or free webmail addresses))
- "cotonou" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
- 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: "MRS.HEATHER DAWNGARN." <email@example.com>
Date: Fri, 7 Sep 2012 21:24:17 +0100 (BST)
Subject: KEEP FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION UPDATED ONCE YOU FOLLOWED OUR INSTRUCTION AND GET YOUR FUND NOW.
ROBERT MUELLER III
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FBI
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION FBI.WASHINGTON D.C
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION SEEKING TO WIRETAP
ATTENTION: FUND BENEFICIARY,
HAS COME TO OUR NOTICE THAT YOU HAVE BEEN DEALING WITH AN IMPOSTOR
WHICH WE HAVE BEEN WARNING YOU TO TERMINATE ANY CONTACT WITH.THIS IS
ALSO TO NOTIFY YOU THAT YOUR FUND WILL BE TRANSFER TO YOU THROUGH A
NOTABLE BANK IN UNITED STATES (CITI BANK).
ALSO DISCOVERED THAT THE PEOPLE YOU ARE DEALING WITH ARE TRYING EVERY
POSSIBLE MEANS FOR YOU TO PAY AN UPFRONT FEE WHICH YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSE
TO PAY. THE ONLY FEE WHICH YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR THE CONCLUSION OF YOUR
TRANSFER IS THE SUM OF US$121 WHICH THE ACTIVATION FEE OF THE ACCOUNT
WHICH WILL BE USE TO CREDIT YOUR FUND INTO YOUR ACCOUNT AND IT IS
MANDATORY. AS SOON AS THE FEE OF US$121 IS BEEN PAID, YOU WILL BE ISSUED
A TRANSFER CODE THAT YOU WILL TENDER TO YOUR BANK FOR CONFIRMATION OF
YOUR SAID AMOUNT AS WE THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION HAS ARRESTED
ALL THE DIPLOMATS CONVEYING THE DELIVERING OF YOUR FUND INTO THE UNITED
STATE OF AMERICA AS ITS ILEGAL CONTRARY TO THE FBI /IRS LAW HERE IN USA
SO WE ORDER YOUR FUND TO BE DEPOSITED AT CITI BANK FOR FINAL CREDITING
TO YOUR ACCOUNT.
SURE YOU CONTACT THE INTERNATIONAL FOREIGN REMITTANCE DEPARTMENT ON HOW
YOU WILL MAKE THE PAYMENT OF US$121 AND THE POSSIBLE DAY TO RECEIVE THE
IS THE INFORMATION TO CONTACT MR.LAWRENCE WILLIAMS, PAYMENT
CENTER.PLEASE RECONFIRM YOUR INFORMATION TO THEM SUCH AS YOUR FULL NAME,
HOME ADDRESS, AGE, OCCUPATION, CITY, TELEPHONE NUMBER, AMOUNT
DUE,MEANWHILE YOU ARE ADVISED TO STOP DELAYING WITH ANY DIPLOMATIC AGENT
OR OTHER BANKS AT THE MOMENT AS YOUR ONLY EXISTING FUND HAS BEEN
FORWARDED TO THE CUSTODY OF CITIBANK ACCORDING TO FEDERAL BUREAU OF
INVESTIGATION CARRIED OUT, SO WE ARE MONITORING YOU AND WILL PENALIZE
YOU IF YOU CONTINUE TO DELAY WITH ANY OTHER PERSON.
CONTACT NAME: MR.LAWRENCE WILLIAMS
OFFICE ADDRESS: 15 KOLOGWOBA AVENUE COCO TOME
CONTACT E-MAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (FBI) WASHINGTON, D.C, VEHEMENTLY
ADVISE YOU COMPLY WITH THE MANAGEMENT COMPANY IN CHARGE OF YOUR FUND AND
ADHERE TO EVERY INSTRUCTION GIVEN TO YOU, FOR SMOOTH AND EASY
TRANSACTIONS, YOU'RE HEREBY AUTHORIZE TO CONTACT HENRY COLE VIA THE
ABOVE INFORMATION ON HOW YOU'RE TO OBTAIN THE TRANSFER CODE WHICH WILL
COST YOU APPROXIMATELY US$121 AND IF YOU'RE ASK TO SEND ANY MORE MONEY
ASIDE THE ACTIVATION OF THE TRANSFER CODE, DO NOT HESITATE TO NOTIFY
THIS OFFICE FOR SECURITY REASONS AND IMMEDIATE INTERVENTION.
THE $121 FOR THE ACTIVATION OF THE ACCOUNT SHOULD BE SENT WITH THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IMMEDIATELY.
RECEIVER NAME:: MR.UDEZUE JOSEPH
TEST QUESTION::FOR WHAT?
AMOUNT::$121 US DOLLARS.
YOU FORWARD YOUR ADDRESS ALONG WITH THE PAYMENT DETAILS TO ENABLE OUR
PAYING AGENT PROCESS THE TRANSFER ACTIVATION CODE IMMEDIATELY.
KEEP FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION UPDATED ONCE YOU FOLLOWED OUR INSTRUCTION AND GET YOUR FUND NOW.
ROBERT MUELLER III FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
J. EDGAR HOOVER BUILDING 935 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE,
NW WASHINGTON, D.C