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:
- "from the desk of" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "fund beneficiary" (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)
- "barrister" (Barristers (lawyers) mentioned in 419 scams are always fake.)
- "foreign payment department" (Banks mentioned in 419 scams are always fake (real banks don't communicate using mobile phones or free webmail addresses))
- "central bank of nigeria" (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.
- Barristers (lawyers) mentioned in 419 scams are always fake.
Fraud email example:
From: Central Bank of Nigeria <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 19 Jun 2019 10:27:04 +0100
Subject: Change of Beneficiary Ownership of Your Funds Please Save This Email.
Central Bank of Nigeria
Foreign Payment Department
From the Desk of: Mr. Samuel Okojere
Dear Fund Beneficiary,
RE: AMOUNT DUE FOR PAYMENT US$5,550,000.00 (FIVE MILLION FIVE HUNDRED AND
FIFTY THOUSAND UNITED STATES DOLLARS ONLY)
We received a very shocking letter from your family's lawyer Barrister
Bernard Smith of Bernard Smith & Associates that you have decided to
withdraw the ownership of your fund that is awaiting payment release and
have transferred the fund ownership to Mr. Shokhonov Sergey Ivanvich of the
below address due to huge debts owed by your company to Mr. Shokhonov
Sergey Ivanvich who is a Russian Investor that owns 75% of your company's
MR. SHOKHONOV SERGEY IVANOVICH
ADDRESS: UL METALLURGOV, D. 46, K. 3, KV.148,
This information came to me as a huge surprise as the Director of Payment
System but on a second thought I decided to personally contact you to find
out if this information is true.
Please kindly get back to me as a matter of urgency confirming if the
information is true as it's not the policy of the Central Bank to authorize
such change without proper investigation of the genuineness and
authenticity of such information before I will grant their request for the
change of the ownership of your funds and endorse the immediate release of
this fund in the name of the new beneficiary.
Mr. Samuel Okojere
Director of Payment System, CBN.
Foreign Payment Dept Central Bank of Nigeria.