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:
- "demurrage " (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. )
- "activation 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. )
- "united state dollar" (this email uses bad English)
- "courier service" (Courier companies mentioned in 419 scams are always fake. They will have you send money to them, but won't deliver anything. )
- "(ecowas)" (the name of a person or institution often appearing in 419 scams)
- "cotonou" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
- 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.
- +229 (Benin, probably a prepaid mobile phone)
- 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: "Mr. James Steven" <"www."@fancy.ocn.ne.jp>
Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2017 03:43:53 +0900 (JST)
Subject: Dear Lucky Beneficiary,
Dear Lucky Beneficiary,
REPUBLIC OF BENIN COTONOU, and PAYMENT NOTIFICATION this is to bring
to your notice that, I Dr.Ani (ECOWAS) Operator have paid the
re-activation fee and the delivery of your ATM Card. I paid it because
the ATM Card is 8119 ($1.5m) United State Dollars, has less Seven days
to expire and when it expires, the money will go into Government
purse. With that I decided to help you pay the money so that, the ATM
Card will not expire, because I know when you will get your ATM Card
definitely you must pay me back my money and even compensate me for
Now i want you to contact DHL COURIER SERVICE with your Full Contact
information$B!G(Bs so that they can deliver your Card to your designated
address without any delay. Like I stated earlier, the delivery charges
has been paid but i did not pay their official keeping fees since they
refused. They refused and the reason is that they do not know when you
are going to contact them and demurrage might have increased.
They told me that their keeping fees are $105 Usd that is the only
money you are going to send to them. Below is their Contact
Information$B!G(Bs, Contact Person:
Mr, Jamesen Zinchin DHL Delivery Service
Email: ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
Tel: +229_99 49 21 56
Contact today to avoid increase of their keeping fees and let me know
once you receive your kind.
Mr. James Steven