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)
- "account opening" (this will cost you money - be careful with upfront payments to anyone you only know through email, especially if they promise you a lot of money. NEVER send money by Western Union or MoneyGram to people you do not know personally - NO EXCEPTIONS! Instant wire transfer services are not meant to be used with strangers because they offer no protection against fraud. That is precisely why the criminals want you send money that way. )
- "dormant account" (Banks mentioned in 419 scams are always fake (real banks don't communicate using mobile phones or free webmail addresses))
- 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)
- contact me via any of the following email address: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org or you can as well send me a (O2; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: Jennifer Francis <email@example.com>
Date: Sun, 06 Sep 2015 02:14:39 +0000
My name is Jennifer Francis, the branch manager of my bank. On a
routine inspection I discovered a dormant account with a base of 15
million USD. After further investigation I also discovered that the
owner of the account died with his wife and their only daughter in a
fatal car accident.
He died without a beneficiary to the account, my research and review
of the account opening file proved that his supposed next of kin died
with him as a result of the accident, The bank will approve this money
to any foreigner who has the information about this account, which i
will give to you, because the former operator of this account was a
Therefore I need your full cooperation in this transaction; I will
provide all the necessary information needed in order to claim this
money. I would like you to provide your full name and address, date of
birth, occupation, Phone and fax; also include your valid
international passport, so that I will rely on you.
All I require is your honest cooperation and trust worthy to enable us
see this arrangement through. I guarantee that this transaction will
be executed under a legitimate banking procedure that will protect you
from any breach of the law. Upon receipt of your response I will give
you the details and necessary procedure to make the transfer a success.
You can contact me via any of the following email address:
Or you can as well send me a text message (SMS) via my mobile
telephone number: +22999930748.
Your early reply in this regard will be appreciated.