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:
- "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)
- "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. )
- "remain blessed" (scammers in West Africa like to use religious phrases)
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
- 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: "Charles Collins" (may be fake)
Date: Wed, 10 Dec 2014 05:36:49 -0700
Subject: CERTIFIED BANK CHEQUE
Compliments of the day and God's blessings. I am glad to inform you that I have successfully concluded the transaction; the money has been transferred to London yesterday. I succeeded through the assistant of Mr. Patrick Richmond who is a London base business man, he cleared the fees and the fund was transferred to his account. Currently I am in London with him and my wife and children.
However, I did not forget you because you are the source of my success, you made me what I am now though you weren't there to complete this project with me but I give all the credit and thanks to you for your past efforts . I know it is not your fault or rather your wish to back out on me and the transaction. I understand it was your situation then.
In appreciation towards your assistance, I have mapped out as a compensation and wrote on your favor a certified bank cheque worth of $1,800,000.oo (ONE MILLION EIGHT HUNDRED THOUSAND UNITED STATES DOLLARS ONLY). I left the cheque with my Secretary Mrs. Dorothy Joyce on my departure to London.
I would like you therefore, to contact her on the below info so that she can mail the bank cheque to you without any delays so that you will received it and then cash your money.
Name: Mrs. Dorothy Joyce
Contact my secretary in Republic of Ghana so that she can release your bank cheque to you. I will stop here. Once again, thank you very much and remain blessed with your family.
Mr. Charles Collins.