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:
- "western union" (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. )
- "money gram" (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. )
- "my direct line" (a "direct line" in a scam usually means an untraceable mobile phone number used by a scammer in an internet cafe, a redirection service number that forwards to a mobile or a free voicemailbox in a different country.)
- "courier service" (Courier companies mentioned in 419 scams are always fake. They will have you send money to them, but won't deliver anything. )
- "certified bank draft" (Beware of any scheme that involves cashing checks or money orders and then wiring a portion of the funds somewhere - you'll be liable for the entire amount if the checks or money orders turn out to be fake, even after you have received and forwarded cash. If it's a lottery prize, remember that real lotteries do not pay large prizes by check. They wire the money directly to your bank account and you do not pay for that. Many scammers promise a large check only in order to then demand payment of courier fees for a fake courier service. )
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
- Western Union money transfer is completely untraceable and therefore is *not* safe to use with anyone you do not know personally. It is the preferred method of online criminals to collect money from their victims.
- 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.
Fraud email example:
From: "Dr. Michael Collins" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sun, 8 Nov 2015 00:43:19 +0100
Subject: Release of your Accrued Interest Payment via Certified Bank Draft
From: Dr.Michael Collins
Director, NDIC Unit
Ecobank Nigeria Plc.
Re: Release of your Accrued Interest Payment via Certified Bank Draft.
The management of Ecobank Nigeria Plc through International
Collaboration/Networking of Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation
(NDIC), wishes to inform you about your interest sum of US$870,000.00
that was accrued from your inheritance sum, which we have been notify
by the International Association of Deposit Insurers (IADI) of World
Bank of Switzerland to release to you.
We want to use this medium inform you that the above interest has been
approved for payment to your through International Certified Bank
Draft, and the draft has been raised in your favor and ready for
delivery to you, which you are required to provide us with your full
name and current contact address together with your direct telephone
number for the delivery of your draft to you.
Meanwhile, be informed that we shall be delivering this draft to you
through FedEx Express Delivery to your house address, which you shall
lodge to any bank of your choice, and it will take only 48hrs to get
More so, you are to note that you should take care of the draft
delivery fee of US$75 is payable to the FedEx Express delivery chief
cashier officer here in Nigeria, and this courier service charges
should be made either by western union money transfer or money gram.
In view of that, the above offices will not be held responsible for
your inability to respond to this official letter within 2 banking
days, because the World bank has given us a 4 working days mandate to
conclude with this transaction.
In case if you need any clarification, do not hesitate to ask, we are
always there to meet your needs.
On behalf of
Ecobank Nigeria Plc
Director, NDIC Unit
Ecobank Nigeria Plc
Call my direct line: +234-7013576747