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:
- "honesty is the watchword" (the question is not whether they can trust you, but whether you have any reason to trust this person or anyone this person tells you to contact)
- "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)
- "maryam abacha" (the name of a person or institution often appearing in 419 scams)
- "sani abacha" (the name of a person or institution often appearing in 419 scams)
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
Fraud email example:
From: "Jacob M. Awani, Esq" <email@example.com>
Date: Thu, 17 Oct 2019 16:31:29 +0100
Subject: Re: GREETINGS FROM: MRS. MARYAM ABACHA AND FAMILY
I AM DIRECTED TO SEND THE BELOW LETTER TO YOU FOR YOUR KIND CONSIDERATION.
FROM: MRS. MARYAM ABACHA.
POT 675 KANURI AVENUE,KANO.
My Dear ,
A Very Good day to you.
This letter may come to you with lot of surprises but patiently go through
it for your kind understanding.I got your contact from a discrete search
for a trusted and reliable foreigner or company who can be of this great
help to me and my family. I am Mrs Maryam Abacha, the wife of the former
Nigerian Head of State who died on the sit as a result of cardiac arrest in
1998. Following the sudden death of my husband General Sani Abacha,I have
been thrown into a state of utter confusion, frustration and hopelessness
by the present civilian administration headed by General Olusegun Obasanjo
who was his arch enemy(he was thrown into prison by my husband on treason
charges),I have been subjected to physical and psychological torture by the
security agents in the country. As a widow that is so traumatized, I have
lost confidence in anybody within the country. You must have heard over the
media reports and the internet on the recovery of various huge sums of
money deposited by my husband in different security firms abroad,some
companies willingly gave up their secrets and disclosed our money
confidently lodged there and many out-rightly blackmailed us. In fact the
total sum discovered by the Government so far is in the tune of
$700.Million dollars. And they are not relenting to make me poor for life,
however pressure from the government since the new administration has
I will give you more information as to this regard as soon as you reply. I
repose great confidence in you hence my approach to you due to security
network placed on my day to day affairs I cannot afford to visit
the embassy(house arrest) so that is why I decided to contact you and I
hope you will not betray my confidence in you. I have deposited the sum of
US$75 million dollars with a security firm abroad whose name is withheld
for now until we open communication. I shall be grateful if you could
receive this fund into your account for safekeeping.This arrangement is
known to you and my family lawyer who shall deal directly with you as I am
still under house arrest. I am seriously considering to settle down abroad
as soon as I regain my freedom so that I can start all over again if only
you wish, but if it is possible, just help me in diverting this funds into
your bank account which will accrue you 20% of this fund. Please honesty is
the watchword in this transaction. I am still under house arrest being
Monitored by the security agents day-in day-out.
And should you accept my terms, kindly send me an email signifying your
interest to help me out through my email box as this is only safe for me
now so that we can commence communication immediately. And upon receipt of
your message of interest, I shall give you a more detailed picture of
things. In case you don't accept please do not let me out to the security
as I am giving you this information in total trust and confidence. I will
greatly appreciate if you accept my proposal in good faith. Please expedite
action. Please reply urgently and treat with absolute confidentiality and
Mrs. Maryam Abacha.
C/O: Jacob M. Awani, Esq.