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 friend" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "urgent assistance" (scammers rush victims so they don't have time to think properly)
- "barr." (Barristers (lawyers) mentioned in 419 scams are always fake.)
- This email message is a next of kin scam.
- This email lists mobile phone numbers. Use of such numbers is typical for scams because they allow criminals to conceal their true location. They can receive calls in an Internet cafe from where they send you emails, while pretending to be in some office.
- 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: Barr Sam Lawson <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, 13 Jun 2015 13:14:56 +0100
Subject: Dearest , Please get back asap!
I am Advocate Samuel Lawson, personal attorney to my late client from your
country who was Director of engineering consultant here in Republic of
Benin. On the 27th of May 2008, my client, His wife and their two Children
were involved in a fatal car accident here and unfortunately all occupants
lost their lives. Since then, I have made several inquiries to your embassy
to locate any of my late clients extended relatives but this has proved
unsuccessful. so i decided to contact you and need your urgent assistance
to present you to the bank as his next of kin so that the proceed of my
late client, funds valued at $10.2M ( Ten Million Two Hundred Thousand
United Dollars.) can be paid Into Your Bank Account immediately before the
funds will be confiscated by the Bank here.
After reading this message, reply me with your direct mobile telephone
number and your full contact information's for more details so that i will
tell you how we can legally proceed the claim. Upon the fund transfer into
your bank account both of us will share it 50% for you 50% for me. Please ,
this must be kept confidential between us as we cannot risk the safety of
All I require is your honest cooperation to enable us see this transaction
Barr. Sam Lawson