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:
- "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. )
- "hundred thousand united states 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)
- "economic and financial crimes commission" (This name is often mentioned in money recovery scams (re-scam): the real EFCC does not contact victims to offer to get their money back because that is near impossible. )
- "(efcc)" (This name is often mentioned in money recovery scams (re-scam): the real EFCC does not contact victims to offer to get their money back because that is near impossible. )
- "(ecowas)" (the name of a person or institution often appearing in 419 scams)
- "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 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: "Government Funds" (may be fake)
Date: Mon, 24 Nov 2014 20:43:46 +0530
Subject: Re: Your Outstanding Payment,
I am Dr. Maduike with the Financial Intelligence Unit of ECONOMIC & FINANCIAL CRIMES COMMISSION (EFCC). The ECONOMIC & FINANCIAL CRIME COMMISSION in alliance with Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have been working towards the eradication of fraudsters and Con Artists in Western part of Africa With the help of the INTERPOL and the United Nation.
We have been able to track down so many of this Con artist in various parts of west African countries which includes (NIGERIA, REPUBLIC OF BENIN, TOGO, GHANA CAMEROON AND SENEGAL) and they are all in our custody here in Lagos Nigeria. After proper investigations, we were able to recover some cash at hand and bank which were supposed to be remitted to you but weren't due to greed. These funds are now being retrieved and will be delivered to intended recipient. We also found a computer hard drive containing your email contact and that of other victims. We at the zenith of affairs of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the United Nations Representatives in Nigeria have agreed that the total sum of USD 68.4M (Sixty Eight Million, Four Hundred Thousand United States Dollars Only) be shared among the 342 email contacts found on the fraudsters hard drive.
This email is being directed to you because your email address was found in one of the Con Artist's Scrap file in the computer hard drive in our custody here in Nigeria. You are therefore being compensated with the total sum $550,000 (Five Hundred And Fifty Thousand United States Dollars).We have made arrangement to provide secure Money transfer through Internationally renowned Money Transfer Merchant (Western Union Money Transfer) Htrs here in Lagos Nigeria to avoid misappropriation. Our workforce have been instructed to fully oversee the transfer process for security reasons.
Feel free to Contact the Head of Operations through the email addresses stated below for Confirmation of your information;
Contact Name : Elizabeth Williams
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Mrs Elizabeth Williams with your information to enable him commence the processing of your payment to avoid any delay in processing.
Director of Foreign Affairs.
EConomic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
15A Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.