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 sir/madam" (a standard Nigerian greeting phrase)
- "into your nominated bank account" (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)
- "million 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)
- ",000,000" (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)
- "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)
- "is 100% risk-free" (almost true for the criminal trying to scam you - arrests of online criminals are rare)
- "barrister" (Barristers (lawyers) mentioned in 419 scams are always fake.)
- "lagos" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- This email message is a next of kin scam.
- Barristers (lawyers) mentioned in 419 scams are always fake.
- 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: "MARTINS GODWIN" (may be fake)
Date: Sun, 30 Nov 2014 01:32:05 -0500
Subject: MARTINS GODWIN & ASSOCIATES ESQ//// 192
MARTINS GODWIN & ASSOCIATES ESQ
SOLICITORS AND ADVOCATES
113A AIRPORT ROAD OSHODI OKE, LAGOS NIGERIA.
POST CODE 23401
PRIVATE EMAIL :( email@example.com)
I must apologize for bringing into your mailbox without a formal introduction of myself to you. Actually, I got your mailbox in the web while trying to get a good and capable business person in your country for both business and investment purposes. Let me start by introducing myself; I am Barrister. MARTINS GODWIN (Esq.) I was the Personal Attorney to late Mr. Smith Bryan an American who was a private businessman in my country unfortunately lost his life in the plane crash of Dana Airlines Flight 992 which crashed on Sunday 3rd June 2012, including his wife and only daughter.
Before the plane crash, Mr. Smith Bryan made a deposit value of US$ 20,000,000.00 (TWENTY MILLION UNITED STATES DOLLARS) in the STANDARD-TRUST BANK OF NIGERIA Upon maturity several notice was sent to him, another notification was sent and still no response came from him. I later found out that Mr. Smith Bryan and his family had been died in that plane crash. After further investigation it was also discovered that Mr. Smith Bryans next of kin was his daughter who died with him in the crash. What borders me most is that according to the laws of my country at the expiration of two years and the funds will revert to the ownership of the NIGERIA GOVERNMENT, if nobody applies to claim the funds. Against this backdrop, my suggestion to you is that I will like you as a foreigner to stand as the next of kin to Mr. Smith Bryan so that you will be able to receive these funds for both of us to share. WHAT IS TO BE DONE?
I want you to know that I have had everything planned out so that we shall come out successfully. As a Barrister, I will prepare the necessary document that will back you up as the next of kin to Mr. Smith Bryan. PLEASE YOU HAVE TO PROVIDE YOUR FULL INFORMATION SUCH AS STATED BELOW,
 OCCUPATION STATUS:
Also be informed that this Transaction will take us just 15 working days to accomplish beginning from when I receive your Datas. After you have been made the next of kin, I will also file an application to the bank on your behalf as soon as I secure the necessary approval and letter of probate in your favor for the movement of the funds to an account that will be provided by you. This process is 100% risk-free as I have set out all the modalities to see that a legalized method is used because then I will prepare all the necessary documents.
Please note that utmost secrecy and confidentiality is required at all times during this transaction.
Once the funds have been transferred into your nominated bank account we shall share in the ratio of 55% for me, 45% for you. If you are not interested, please delete this letter so that I can scout for another competent partner to conclude this transaction. Should you be interested please send me your full names, telephone, fax number and email address as stated above. I will prefer that you reach me via this PERSONAL email address :(firstname.lastname@example.org)
Your earliest response to this letter will be appreciated.
Thanks and God bless you.