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:
- "necessary legal documents" (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. )
- "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)
- "hundred thousand united state 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)
- ",500,000" (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)
- "00,000.00" (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)
- "united state dollar" (this email uses bad English)
- "barrister" (Barristers (lawyers) mentioned in 419 scams are always fake.)
- This email message is a next of kin scam.
- Barristers (lawyers) mentioned in 419 scams are always fake.
Fraud email example:
From: "James Morris Esq." <email@example.com>
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2021 16:19:31 -0700
Subject: Business Proposal
I am sorry for the embarrassment this mail might cause you, as we have
not met before. I am Barrister James Morris, a solicitor at law; I was
the personal attorney German Foreigner by name Adolf Merckle aged 74
years old, who committed suicide on January 5th 2009 after his
business empire ran into trouble in the global economic financial
crisis. Please refer to the news website below to read more about our
Since then nobody has done anything as regards to the claiming of this
money as he has no family member here in South that is aware of the
existence of either the account or the fund. Several attempt to trace
any of his relative proof abortive and also Information from the
National Immigration office states that late Adolf Merckle was alone
on point of entry into USA. I came across your name and contact while
in search of my client relations and decided to ask for your
assistance for the realization of this project. Before his demise, my
client had lodged the sum of US$28,500,000.00 (Twenty Eight Million,
Five Hundred Thousand United State Dollars Only) with a bank here in
USA, with the hope of transferring the money to his account overseas
After his death nobody has come forward to claim the money as his next
of kin, the Bank last year gave me 12 monthsâ notice to provide his
Next of Kin or have the money confiscated; this ultimatum will expire
in a few monthsâ time. Since I have been unsuccessful in locating the
relatives for over three years now, I seek your consent to present you
as the Next of Kin of my deceased Client so that the ownership of this
$USD28.5 Million Dollars can be transferred to you to enable you and I
share it on the following percentage of 50% for me and 45% for you,
and the remaining 5% will be used for expenses and tax.
I will also procure all necessary legal documents that can be used to
back up any claim we may make. All I require is your honest
co-operation to enable us see this business through. I guarantee that
this will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect
you from any breach of the law.
James Morris Esq.