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:
- "dear friend" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "cost of transfer" (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. )
- "mtcn" (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. )
- "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 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.
- email@example.com (Yahoo; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: "DR. EDWARD SUNNY" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, 5 Dec 2012 17:21:22 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: REGARDING YOUR INHERITANCE PAYMENT$4.800.000.00USD!
DEAR BENEFICIARY ,
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE ECO BANK AUDITOR HERE
HAS TODAY CONCLUDED TO ACCEPT ONLY $99.00 ONLY TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU CONFIRM
$4.8M INTO YOUR ACCOUNT WITH OUT FURTHER DELAY.
MY GOD KNOWS THAT I AM VERY SINCERE TO YOU
IN THIS TRANSACTION THEREFORE YOU WILL SURELY RECEIVE $4.8M INTO YOUR ACCOUNT
ONCE YOU COMPLY WITH $99.00 ONLY AS THE COST OF TRANSFER (COT). AND SOME PAPER
NEEDED FROM IMF
PLEASE MY DEAR FRIEND, YOU NEED TO ACT URGENT TO SEND
ONLY $99.00 ONLY BECUASE THAT WILL BE ONLY FEE THAT YOU ENTITLE TO PAY FOR
RECEIVING YOUR $4.8M WITHOUT ANY FURTHER DELAY. I AS MIGHT HAVE TOLD YOU BEFORE
, I AM A BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN 26 YEARS AGO THEREFORE CAN NEVER NEVER LET MY
FELLOW HUMAN BEING DOWN AS RESULT OF FEAR OF GOD IN ME . MEANWHILE THE
AUTHORISING BANK TO PAY IS ECO BANK PLC BENIN REPUBLIC AS THE INSTRUCTION WAS
PASSED TO THEM, AS SOON AS YOU PAY ONLY $99.00 TO THEM YOU CONFIRM TELEX
REPORTS $4.8M WITHOUT ANY TROUBLE OR DELAY TO YOU.
PAY THE ONLY $99.00 ON DETAILS STATED
BELLOW TO THE SKYE BANK PLC BENIN REPUBLIC:CONTACT NAME PROF.SAMUEL
HOW EVER THIS IS THE INFORMATION TO SEND
THE $99.00 IMMEDIATELY FOR URGENT TRANSFER OF YOUR FUND
RECEIVER NAME----------NWOBU ISAAC
COUNTRY ----------------------- BENIN
CITY ---------------------------- COTONOU
TEST QUSTION ------------- WHO MADE YOU?
TEST ANSWER ------------- GOD
AMOUNT ---------------------- $99.00 ONLY LAST
HOPE TO HEAR FROM YOU IMMEDIATELY YOU
RECEIVE THIS MASSAGE WITH THE PAYMENT INFORMATION AND YOUR BANK INFO AND HOME
ADDRESS TELL NUMBER:
DIRECTOR ECO BANK
CALL ME AT
REGARDING YOUR INHERITANCE