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 sir/madam" (a standard Nigerian greeting phrase)
- "from the desk of" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "might come to you as a surprise" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "is 100% risk free" (almost true for the criminal trying to scam you - arrests of online criminals are rare)
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
- 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: Philip Cohen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 04 Apr 2016 16:29:22 -0700
Subject: Attention please !
LETTER FROM THE DESK OF: MR. PHILIP COHEN
Tel: +27- 845-179-9995
This proposal might come to you as a surprise, since it is from someone you do not know or have seen before, but based on faith, I had to contact you believing that you are reputable and as such you cannot run away with my own share of this money when concluded.
I am MR. PHILIP COHEN the director and coordinator of the Finance Contract Department of Minerals and Energy with South Africa Government. The crux of this letter is that the finance / contract department of the DME deliberately over-inflated the contract values of various contract awarded. In the course of disbursement, I was able to track down the sum of US$50 Million as the over invoiced sum. This money is now floating in the DME domiciliary account with the South African Reserve Bank (SARB).
I want to quickly transfer this fund to a safe nominated foreign account for possible investment abroad. We are not allowed as a matter of government policy to operate any foreign account because of our status as civil / public servants. Hence the needs to solicit for a partner abroad to enable me transfer this money into your bank account abroad. Upon your acceptance of this proposal, the funds will be shared in the following sharing percentages:
1. 40% for you as the account owner.
2. 55% will be for me.
3. 5% will stand for any expenses we might come up during the transfer process including all the international phone call cost.
I be coming over to your country when the money is finally transferred into your designated bank, and I be relying on your advice as regards to investment after our mutual sharing based on the percentage agreed. Be informed that this transaction is 100% risk free.
Please get back to me as soon as you can for more details or delete this email message if you are not interested in my proposal.
MR. PHILIP COHEN