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)
- "security keeping fee" (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. )
- "hundred thousand united state 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)
- "united state dollar" (this email uses bad English)
- "cheque " (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 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 (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: "Mr.Paul G Williams" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Reply-To: "Mr.Paul G Williams" <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, 18 Nov 2014 16:22:02 +0000 (UTC)
Subject: Attn Dear Your ATM CARD Shipment Code Awb 33xzs,
Â Attn dear Friend,
This is to inform you that your Unclaimed Compensation Payment Worth of Four Million Five Hundred Thousand United State Dollars ($4.5M USD,) has been approved by the United Nation office here in Benin, and has been converted into an ATM Master Card as the Manager of the Issued Bank, UBA BANK BENIN confirmed that the Cheque will expired before getting to your hand, so I instructed them to convert it into an ATM Master Card to free it from expiring.
And I have registered your ATM Card with the DHL Courier Office for them to deliver it to your home within 48 hours and we agreed that the delivering of your ATM CARD Package will take off as soon as you contact them with your full address where your ATM Card will be delivered to you.
Direct phone number__
Contact E-mail :(firstname.lastname@example.org)
Name of John Yinka
I have paid for the Insurance & Delivery fee, except their Security Keeping Fee which they said it can only be paid when the Deposits is ready for shipment to the Receiver. Therefore that this only money you will send them, I am out of the country for a Meeting. Please indicate the registration Number (Shipment Code Awb 33xzs) to enable them know that you are the right person.
Thanks and God Bless You.
Mr.Paul G Williams,