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:
- "million 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)
- This email message is a "dying widow" scam.
Fraud email example:
From: "Mrs. Mary Willfied" <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 07 Aug 2013 12:16:12 -0400
I know that this letter may be a very big surprise to you, I came
across your email contact from my personal search and I believe that
you will be honest to fulfill my final wish before I will die.
I am Mrs. Mary Willfied, I am 58 years old, I am suffering from a long
time cancer of the breast. From all indication my condition is really
deteriorating, and my doctors have courageously advised me that I may
not live beyond next month; this is because the cancer stage has
reached a critical stage. I was brought up in a motherless baby?s
home, and was married to my late husband for twenty years without a
child. My husband and I are true Christians, but quite unfortunately,
he died in a fatal motor accident.
Since his death I decided not to re-marry, I sold all my inherited
belongings and deposited all the sum of $2.5million dollars with a
Financial Company. Presently, this money is still in their custody,
and the management just wrote me as the legitimate depositor to inform
me of the maturity date of my deposit or rather issue a letter of
authorization to somebody to receive it on my behalf since I can not
come over as a result of my illness, or they get it confiscated.
Presently, I'm with my laptop in a hospital where I have been
undergoing treatment. I have since lost my ability to talk and my
doctors have told me that I have only a few months to live.
It is my last wish to see that this money is invested in any
organization of your choice and proceeds distributed each year among
the charity organization, the poor and the motherless baby?s orphanage
homes and widows around. I must let you know that this was a very hard
decision, but I had to take a bold step towards this issue because I
have no further option. I hope you will help see my last wishes come
As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the
Security Company. I will also issue you a letter of authority, which
will prove that you are the new beneficiary of my funds. Please assure
me that you will act accordingly as I stated herein. Hope to hear from