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:
- An email address listed inside this email has been used in a known fraud before.
- 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)
- "i will like you to " (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "00,000.00" (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)
- "cotonou" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- "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. )
- This email message is a "New Partner from Paraguay" scam.
- 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.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: "Mrs.Mary George" (may be fake)
Date: Mon, 17 Feb 2014 20:47:42 +0200
Subject: VERY IMPORTANT NOTIFICATION
My Name is Mrs Mary George.
How are you today? Hope all is well with you and your family? I hope this
mail finds you in an excellent condition of health.
But if you do not remember me, you have received an email from me in the
past regarding my late father inheritance
multi-million-dollar business proposal which we never concluded at that time.
I am using this opportunity to inform you that my late father inheritance
which was WILL in my name have been concluded with another Greek Merchant
who financed it to a logical conclusion.
I thank you for your great effort
to our unfinished transfer of the funds into your account, due to one
reason or the other bests to known you at that time.
Due to the effort, sincerity, courage and trust worthiness you showed
during the course of the transaction, I want to compensate you and show my
gratitude to you with the sum of $400,000.00. I have left an international
certified bank draft for you, worth about $400,000.00 cashable anywhere in
My dear friend I will like you to contact my Pastor Martin HARRISON so
that he will send the draft to you without any delay.
At the moment, I 'm
very busy here in Paraguay South American, trying to invest my money with
the help of the Good Samaritan who hears my cry and assistant in the
release of my funds with the bank.
Please I will like you to accept this
token with good faith as this is from the bottom of my heart.
CONTACT: Pastor Martin HARRISON
ADDRESS: Akpakpa, Cotonou-Republic Du Benin
Therefore, you should send him your full Name, telephone number and
contact address for his reference and make further arrangement with him on
how you want to receive your check.
Thanks you in anticipation for your past efforts and God bless you.
Mrs Mary George.