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:
- 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:
- "atm card department" (this phrase is often used in the ATM card payment scam)
- "tax clearance" (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. )
- "processing 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. )
- "tax clearance" (Tax offices mentioned in 419 scams are always fake. Even after you pay their fake tax demands you will still not receive the non-existent funds you have been promised. )
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
- 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.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: "Mr. Mark John" (may be fake)
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2019 02:18:44 +0100
Subject: RE:Attention: to Your payment
Attention: to Your payment
I wish to use this medium to inform you that your Compensation payment
of $1.2 million (One Million Two Hundred Thousand Dollars) from
Central Bank of West Africa States has been approved for onward
released to you via Visa ATM card which you will use to withdraw all
the $1.2 million in any ATM machine any part of the world but the
maximum you can withdraw in a day is $5,500 Only. We have mandated
United Bank for Africa to send you the ATM Card and PIN CODE which you
will use to withdraw all your $1.2 Million in any ATM machine in any
part of the world,
You are hereby advice to contact the Head of ATM Card Department of
United Bank for Africa as follows: E-mail address: (
email@example.com ) Contact person is Rev. James Edward,
inform him that you received a message from the office of the Senate
instructing him to send you the ATM CARD and PIN CODE which you will
use to withdraw your $1.2 million in any ATM machine in any part of
the world. Also send him your direct phone numbers and contact address
where you want him to send the ATM CARD and PIN NUMBER to you, but you
have to pay the processing fees $175 for the claims your ATM card as
the non resident Tax clearance charges.
Thanks for hearing to this instruction and once again accept our
Mr. Mark John.