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 fake company names, fake addresses, non-existent institutions/documents or other details have appeared in scams before:
- The following phrases in this message should put you on alert:
- "we advice you" (this email uses bad English)
- "diplomatic immunity" ("diplomats" who perform deliveries of cash or other valuables to you only exist in 419 scams)
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
Fraud email example:
From: " FBI ANTI TERRORIST UNIT, ANY LEGALS" <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, 2 Jul 2016 20:39:32 -0400
Subject: FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
This is an official advice from the FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
(FBI). It has come to our notice that some certain individuals have
used your name as the beneficiary of funds worth Millions of United
States Dollars from abroad. These individuals with their collaborating
banks knowing fully well that they do not have enough facilities to
effect this payment from any part of the world to your account, used
what we know as a Secret Diplomatic Transit Payment (S.T.D.P) as well
as the ATM card system to pay this fund which has not been completed
till this day. Direct transfers are difficult and Secret Diplomatic
Transit Payment (S.T.D.P) are not made unless the funds are related to
terrorist activities and we ask why must your payment be made in
secret transfer if your transaction is legitimate.We do not want you
to get into trouble as soon as these funds reflect in your account, so
it is our duty as an International Commission to correct these little
problems before this fund is
We advice you to contact us immediately, as the funds have been
stopped and are being held in our custody, until you are able to
provide us with a Diplomatic Immunity Seal of Transfer (DIST) document
within 3 days from the Country that authorized the transfer from where
the funds was transferred from to certify that the funds that you are
about to receive are terrorist/drug free or we shall have cause to
impound the payment and subsequent prosecution. We shall release the
funds immediately we receive this legal document and make sure that
you get your payment without any further delay.