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:
- "from the desk of" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "affidavit of claim" (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. )
- "western union" (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 us 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)
- "we advice you" (this email uses bad English)
- "affidavit " (Barristers (lawyers) mentioned in 419 scams are always fake.)
- "lagos" (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.
- Western Union money transfer is completely untraceable and therefore is *not* safe to use with anyone you do not know personally. It is the preferred method of online criminals to collect money from their victims.
- 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: Gilbert Ford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, 12 Jan 2013 20:09:38 +1300 (NZDT)
Subject: Payment Notification!
IMF WORLD REGULATORY HEAD OFFICE LAGOS / NIGERIA
INTERNATIONAL FUNDS REGULATORY AUTHORITY
INTER-CONTINENTAL DEBT RECONCILIATION DEPT.
FROM THE DESK OF: HONORABLE
DR. GILBERT FORD DIRECTOR Tel +234-70-8118-9988
ATTENTION:PLEASE READ CAREFULLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
PROVISION OF AFFIDAVIT OF CLAIM CERTIFICATE FOR LEGAL COVER/ PROTECTION OF US $1.5M IN YOUR FAVOR.
THE BALANCING OF THE FEDERATION ACCOUNT GOING ON NOW BECAUSE THE YEAR IS FAST COMING UP AND DUE TO THAT YOUR PAYMENT FILE WORTH THE TOTAL SUM OF $1.5 MILLION US DOLLARS HAS JUST BEEN BROUGHT TO MY DESK FOR CANCELLATION WHICH I HAVE TO TAKE MY TIME TO LOOK INTO YOUR PAYMENT FILE TO KNOW WHY YOUR OVER DUE PAYMENT SHOULD BE CANCELED AND I FOUND OUT THAT IT WAS BECAUSE OF YOUR INABILITY TO SECURE YOUR RELEASE APPROVAL ORDER CERTIFICATE (RAOC) THAT IS WHY THEY HAVE RESOLVED TO HAVE YOUR PAYMENT OF $1.5 MILLION US DOLLARS CANCELED.
HOWEVER, DUE TO HUMANITARIAN GROUND / SYMPATHY AND BECAUSE I DO NOT WANT YOUR PAYMENT CANCELED SO I IMMEDIATELY CALLED UP THE PRESIDENT (PRESIDENT YAYI BONI) TO EXPLAIN YOUR MATTER TO HIM AS REGARDS TO YOUR PAYMENT AND HE PERSONALLY CALLED UP A MEETING WHICH WAS RESOLVED THAT ALL PAYMENT CHARGES AND ANY PAYMENT FEE BE REDUCED TO IT'S BAREST MENIAL IN OTHER TO ENABLE YOU AFFORD TO PAY THE FEE SO THAT YOUR PAYMENT BE RELEASED TO YOU TODAY.
TO THIS END IT WILL INTEREST YOU TO KNOW THAT EVERY AND ANY FEE/CHARGES REQUIRED OF YOU HAVE BEEN REDUCED TO ONLY THE SUM OF $95 THIS STEP IS IN OTHER TO ENABLE YOU HAVE THIS ONLY FEE PAID SO THAT YOUR RELEASE APPROVAL ORDER CERTIFICATE (RAOC) IS PROCURED AND ACQUIRED IN OTHER TO ENABLE THE SPEEDY ACCELERATED TRANSFER OF YOUR $1.5 MILLION US DOLLARS INTO ANY BANK ACCOUNT OF YOUR CHOICE.
PLEASE WE WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT YOU HAVE TILL THE END OF TODAY TOEFFECT THE REQUIRED PAYMENT SO WE CAN CLEAR, RELEASE AND EFFECT YOUR FUND WORTH $1..5M US IN OUR CARE TO ANY BANK ACCOUNT OF YOUR CHOICE SO WE ADVICE YOU TO PAY THE $95 THROUGH THE WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER BELOW INFORMATION AND SEND BACK THE PAYMENT DETAILS TO THIS OFFICE IMMEDIATELY THE PAYMENT IS EFFECTED BY YOU.
SEND THE $95 TO OUR CASHIER AGENT NAME THROUGH WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER.
RECEIVERS NAME: SIMEON OBALIM
COUNTRY: LAGOS / NIGERIA
AMOUNT: $95 ONLY
TEXT QUESTION: COLOR
TEXT ANSWER: BLUE
M.T.C.N ? REQUIRED FOR PICK UP
WE WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT WE ARE INDEED VERY SORRY FOR ANY INCONVENIENCES ANY DELAY THIS MUST HAVE CAUSED YOU IN HAVING YOUR FUND PAID OUT TO YOU LONG BEFORE NOW.
YOU WILL NEVER EVER REGRET PAYING THE FEE THIS IS A PROMISE TO YOU AFTER ALL YOUR PAINS IN THE PAST AS WE ARE HERE TO SERVE YOU AS OUR WORD IS OUR BOND TO YOU.
CONFIRM THE RECEIPT OF THIS E-MAIL BY YOU IMMEDIATELY AND BE REST ASSURED THAT YOU WILL BE SMILING TO YOUR BANK ONCE YOU COMPLY WITH THE ABOVE DIRECTIVES NOW.YOUR URGENT RESPONSE TO THIS E-MAIL NOW WILL GO A LONG WAY IN HELPING US ENSURE YOUR PAYMENT IS RELEASED TO YOU WITHIN 24 HOURS OF YOU ACTING AS INSTRUCTED YOU NOW. BELLOW IS MY ATTACH ID CARD CONFIRMATION...
RESPOND BACK IMMEDIATELY.