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.
Click here to report a problem with this page.
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:
- "may come to you as a surprise" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- This email message is a "dying merchant" 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.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: "Mr. Mike William" <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 14 Sep 2016 10:24:35 +0100
Subject: HELP IN DISTRIBUTING FUNDS TO THE POOR AND NEEDY
HELP IN DISTRIBUTING FUNDS TO THE POOR AND NEEDY
From Mr. Mike William
This letter may come to you as a surprise, but I have to say that I have no
intentions of putting you into any form of stress or worries. As you read
this, I don't want you to feel sorry for me because I believe everyone will
My name is Mr. Mike William a business tycoon based in British Virgin
Islands. I have been diagnosed with prostate and esophageal Cancer that was
discovered very late due to my laxity in caring for my health. It has
defiled all form of medicine and right now, I have only about just few
months to live according to medical experts. I have not particularly lived
my life so well, as I never really cared for anyone not even myself or my
family but my business.
Though I am very rich, I was never caring, I was always hostile to people
and only focus on my business as that was the only thing I ever cared for.
But now I regret all this, as I now know that there is more to life than
just wanting to have or make all the money in the world. I believe if God
gives me a second chance to come to this world I would live my life a
different way from how I have lived it. Since the announcement of the
diagnosed with prostate and esophageal Cancer and the time I have to stay
on earth, I have decided to give alms to charity organizations, as I want
this to be one of the last good deeds I do on earth.
So far, I have distributed money to some charity organizations here in
British Virgin Islands and also in Indonesia, and some African Countries.
Now that my health has deteriorated so badly, I cannot do this my self any
more. I once asked members of my family to close one of my accounts in
Bulgaria and donate the money to charity organization in Bulgaria, they
connived and instead kept the money to themselves. Hence, I do not trust
them anymore, as they seem not to be contended with what I have left for
them and others, they stole from me.
The last of my money, which is the huge cash deposit that I have with a
Financial Firm abroad. I will want you to help me collect this deposit and
distribute it to charity organizations in your country and let them know
that I Mr. Mike William is making this generous donation. I am writing this
from my laptop computer in my hospital bed where I wait for my time to
come. I pray that God uses you to support and assist me with good heart.
As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the Bank
and how much I deposited there. I will also issue you a Letter of Authority
that will empower you as the original beneficiary of this fund. My
happiness would be if my last wish is obeyed. Please always be prayerful
all through and try as much as possible to learn from my lessons in your
Also, Please assure me that you will act just as I have stated herein. Hope
to hear from you soon and God bless you and members of your family. Contact
me through my private e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org). God be with
Mr. Mike William