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)
- This email message is a "dying widow" scam.
Fraud email example:
From: Octavian Zhang <email@example.com>
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2017 18:30:51 -1200
Subject: very urgent
I know that this letter may be a very big surprise to you, I got your
contact address through address journal when i was searching for a
I'm Octavian Zhang, 76 yrs old, I'm suffering from a long time cancer
of the Blood. From all indication my condition is really
deteriorating,and my doctors have courageously advised me that I may
not live beyond the next few months, this is because the cancer stage
has reached a critical stage. I was brought up in a motherless baby
home, and also married my late wife for eighteen years without a
child, My wife and I are true Christians, but quite unfortunately,
she died in a fatal motor accident, Since she died I decided not to
re-marry, I sold all my inherited belongings and deposited all the sum
of $6.2million dollars with a Bank
Presently, this money is still in their financial custody, and the
management just wrote me as the Legitimate beneficiary to come forward
to receive the money on my behalf since I can not come over as a
result of my illness, or they get it confiscate. Presently, I'm in a
hospital where I have been undergoing treatment even my doctors have
told me that I have only a few months to live, It is my last wish to
see that this money is invested in any organization of your choice and
distribute yearly among charity, the poor and motherless baby home
where I come from. I want your good humanitarian, to also use this
money to fund churches, orphanages,I must let you know that this was a
very hard decision, but I had to take a bold step towards this issue
because I have no further option and hope you will help see my last
wishes come true Once I receive your reply I will give you contact of
the Bank and issue you a letter of authority which will prove that you
are the new beneficiary of my funds, and the documents concerning the deposit.
Take care and God bless