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)
- "mobilization fee" (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. )
- ",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)
- ",500,000" (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)
- "top secret" (scammers urge victims to keep the transaction secret because they don't want anyone to point out to them that it is a scam)
- This email message is a next of kin scam.
- 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.
- email@example.com (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: Otabil Mensah <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, 05 Dec 2015 01:36:48 +0000
Subject: Best Regards From Your Brother Friend
I am surprised not getting a response from the earlier mail I sent to you.
Let me start by introducing myself properly to you. I am Mr. Otabil
Mensah, the Bank Manager of a Financial Institution. My client died
few years ago in Ghouta chemical weapons attack in Syria during his
business trip and both of you have the same last names. My client was
a supplier of High Tech Machineries, plants and equipment for the
renovation of our international airport. Prior his demise, he secured
a contract of US$21,000,000 from our aviation ministry which he
received a 64.3% mobilization fee of USD$13,500,000 and successfully
executed the contract. The 35.7% balance of his payment amounting to
USD$7,500,000 due to him was paid into his account few months after
his sudden Death.
Unfortunately he did not properly introduce any beneficiary to his
account at his demise and I have tried to reach his family but all
efforts proved void, hence my contacting you are to request your
assistance to stand as My client next of kin so that my bank can
transfer the USD$7,500,000 funds to your account, I agree that we
share the funds 40% for you and 60% for me, also my 60% share will
also be invested in your country under your care.
I understand this might be against your ethical belief and personal
indoctrination but life is not often what we think it is. I did not
mastermind the death of my client. If there were something I could
have done officially to have this money sent to his real relatives,
believe me, I would have done it since my religion forbids to take
somebody else thing but, frankly speaking, it will be stupid of me to
leave this funds in my bank.
Now, as an officer of the bank, I cannot be directly connected to the
fund which make me to request for your assistance to stand as the next
of kin to Mr My client to receive the fund. Kindly get back to me on
this id( email@example.com ) for a brief discussion on how to
proceed. Please do treat this information as Top secret. Thanks for
Mr. Otabil Mensah