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:
- "courier service" (Courier companies mentioned in 419 scams are always fake. They will have you send money to them, but won't deliver anything. )
- "lagos" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- "cashiers check" (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. )
- "certified bank draft" (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. )
- "firstname.lastname@example.org" (this email address has been used in a known scam)
- 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.
Fraud email example:
From: "UNITED BANK FOR AFRICA" (may be fake)
Date: Sun, 19 May 2013 00:29:33 -0700
Subject: Attention: U.B.A Fund Beneficiary
United Bank For Africa,
27 Kofo Abayomi Street,
This is to notify you that the sum of 1.5 million has been approved and released in your favor as an initial part payment in fulfillment of a bilateral agreement reached by the African Union (AU) and the World bank to use United Bank For Africa in the settlement of all foreign debts which includes Contract/Inheritance/ Lottery and other international loans.
Based on this, our investigation reveals that you have been contacted in the past by numerous impostors,claiming to be bank officials with unofficial online bank web
sites,demanding outrageous fees from you to transfer your funds which have made it impossible for you to trust any one asap.
However, with the assistance of the United States of America's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), 31 U.S.C. 5311 et
seq., and its implementing regulations act 31 C.F.R. Chapter x and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), our bank has been mandated to commence the immediate release of your funds through one of the following
(1). PAYMENT VIA AUTOMATIC TELLER MACHINE (ATM master card) which will guaranty you a cash withdraw of 5,000 per day.Also, you have the option to transfer funds from
your ATM card to your bank account.
(2). CERTIFIED CASHIERS CHECK OR BANK DRAFT: With this, an original copy of a certified bank draft or check signed in your favor will be issued to you via courier
service delivery to you given address which you have to deposit for confirmation and clearance within 3 to 5 working days at most depending on your bank.
(3) ONLINE BANKING ( Bank To Bank Transfer) : with this option,you will be required to open an online bank account with us which will enable you get access to our
online bank web site to access your account deposit balance and make transfers to your local bank account.
You are advised to select any of the above three options on how you wish to receive your funds and revert to us as soon as possible. Your online banking access or ATM
card or check/bank draft will be shipped via FedEx or UPS courier Shipping Company and would get to you within 2 working days at most.
You are to send your communication particulars below,
Method of receiving Funds:
Please reply urgently to my email address which is, email@example.com should this mail meet your interest.
Mr. Adam Benson.
Client service Officer.