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:
- 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:
- "to 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)
- "is 100% risk-free" (almost true for the criminal trying to scam you - arrests of online criminals are rare)
- "ecowas " (the name of a person or institution often appearing in 419 scams)
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
Fraud email example:
From: "Mr. Michel Lafont" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2015 06:09:23 -0800
Subject: Re: Bank Transaction! 1/19/2015
From: Mr. Michel Lafont
Administration and Finance
Subject: Requesting your cooperation to transfer Ten Million United States dollars to a safe bank account.
I am the Auditor-General of the ECOWAS Commission, I got your contact from the West African Free Trade Database internet portal in my search of a reliable and trustworthy foreign partner and I hope we can work closely together on mutually ratified partnership agreement. The aforementioned funds were over-invoiced contract payments and I am sincerely seeking your collaboration to receive these funds into your private bank account because the Public Service Code of Conduct Bureau highly prohibits a public officeholder from operating a foreign bank account and the fund can only be paid out to a foreign bank account. By virtue of my status as the Head of the Audit/Accounts Department, I would sincerely wish to confidentially establish an investment partnership with you prior to my retirement from public service by mid 2016.
On completion of the transfer of the fund to a safe bank account, you will share 50% of the total fund to compensate your efforts, cover envisaged expense including cost of legal documentation for a transparent and hitch-free remittance, and my share of 50% will be kept in a safe interest yielding bank account under your watch until my official retirement and subsequent visit to meet personally with you in your country.
We shall discuss further details of this deal as soon as I receive your unconditional acceptance, is rest assured that this transaction is 100% risk-free. It is pertinent to note that this fund will be transferred to your nominated bank account via swift without any breach of international financial law.
Mr. Michel Lafont.