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:
- "will come to you as a surprise" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "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)
- "email@example.com" (this email address has been used in a known scam)
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
Fraud email example:
From: "Helen Drakov" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2015 17:32:55 -0500 (EST)
Subject: I NEED YOUR HELP
Good day, I know that this email will come to you as a surprise because
you don't know me and I don't know you too. My name is Helen Drakov, I am
17years old and an orphan. My late father died in auto crash in December
2011. My late father was killed in a road accident but the police reported
that my late father was drunk and full of alcohol before his death.
However, my late father was a successful business man who lived IN HONG
KONG AND Guangzhou China before coming back to my country, Latvia. Before
the death of my father, he told me that he deposited the sum of
US$5,000,000:00 (Five Million United States Dollars only) with a bank in
China in the year 2007. I have contacted the Bank and they told me that I
am free to come and claim the money as the only daughter of my late father
as I have the secret number my father gave me.
Now, I am presently living with my uncle who is taking care of my school
and my uncle is very wicked to me. He has seized all my late fathers
properties and sold them away without showing any consign to me. Now, I
don't want him to know about the US$5,000,000:00 with the Bank that is why
I am contacting you to give me and urgently assist so that I can instruct
the bank to transfer the money to your account to enable me come to meet
you in your country and start a new life.
My main reason of contacting you is because I don't want my uncle to know
about the money because he may claim it and seize the money and I will not
get anything. I am assuring you that this money belongs to my late father
and it is safe, risk free and legal. the deposit is with the bank Let me
know if you are ready to help me on this so that I can give you the detail
information of the bank, and we reach an agreement on what will be your
I am waiting for your reply through my email: email@example.com
Miss. Helen Drakov