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 phrases in this message should put you on alert:
- "million dollars" (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)
- "% will be for you" (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)
- "remain blessed" (scammers in West Africa like to use religious phrases)
- This email message is a "dying widow" scam.
Fraud email example:
From: Mrs. Wendy Jane Williams. <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2017 11:17:31 +0200
Subject: Hello my beloved in the Lord
Dearest Beloved ,
Hello my beloved in the Lord.
First and foremost, I apologize using this medium to reach you for a
transaction of this magnitude. My Name is Mrs. Wendy Jane Williams I
am 75 years old base in South Africa. I write to Relate to you of my
intention to use my money 20.5 million dollars for charity work in
your country. I was married to Late McCauley Scott Williams who was a
contractor with the Government of South Africa before he died for
plane crashed in 2000 in Kenya airways. I am a new Christian convert,
suffering from long time cancer of the breast.
All indication from my doctor that my conditions is really
deteriorating and it is quite obvious that I wouldn't live more than
three months, according to my doctors and in all indication regards to
medical analysis. This is because the cancer disease has gotten to a
very bad stage that no hope for me to be a living person again.40
years period of marriage life, still we could not produce any child,
my late husband was very wealthy and after his death, I inherited some
part of his business and money in the bank.
The doctors has advised me that I may not live for more than Three
months and 2 weeks and warn me to stop thinking over who is going to
inherit my money, today I have decided to donate contribute to the
less privileges, charity and orphanage homes. I want to know if I can
trust you to use these funds for charity / orphanage and 25% will be
for you as compensation. Please contact me, so that I will give you
I await urgent reply. Remain blessed
Mrs. Wendy Jane Williams.