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:
- "huge sum of money" (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)
- "top secret" (scammers urge victims to keep the transaction secret because they don't want anyone to point out to them that it is a scam)
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
Fraud email example:
From: "Mr. Sheriff Ahmed" <email@example.com>
Date: Fri, 07 Apr 2017 04:56:17 +0200
Subject: Re: Can You Handle This Project?
I am Mr. Sheriff Ahmed from Syria.I am in London at the moment as a
political refugee because of the recent problems of my country. I have
a huge sum of money deposited in an offshore security company and I
need your urgent help to quickly move this money from the present
place to another country of your choice in your name for investment in
your country to avoid any question concerning the source, it is the
only thing left for me now and I want to start a new life with it.
This transaction requires immediate attention because of the current
political situation in my country (Syria) and I do not want to lose
this money to the rebels or government.
It is a huge sum of money and I am ready to offer you 30% of the money
to stand as the beneficiary and transfer to a new bank account of your
choice. I believe you can help me, but on the contrary please forgive
my indulgence and delete this e-mail content without sharing with
If you are interested and able to handle this for me in all honesty
without any betrayal of trust that I shall repose on you then contact
me for more details.Please note that this transaction is confidential
and should be kept in top secret until we have completed the transfer
to your appointed account.
Thank you very much for your understanding.
Mr. Sheriff Ahmed.