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:
- "dear sir/madam" (a standard Nigerian greeting phrase)
- 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.
- email@example.com (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: TONY MALANGU <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, 21 Aug 2021 07:36:42 +0200
l wish to solicit for your assistance in the transfer of huge sum of fund
to a foreign bank account.
My name is Mr. Tony Malangu, a branch manager of a leading bank in South
This money was deposited in a fixed deposit account with my bank, by a
foreign national, seven years ago. The length of time for the maturity of
the fixed deposit was five years which expired towards the ending of last
two years. Incidentally, Mr. Frank Malone, who was the beneficiary died in
a car accident here in South Africa, in May 2016. No claim notice has
reached the bank in this regard. I am willing to compensate you with 25% of
the total amount, for your assistance. Kindly respond to this email stating
your telephone numbers and email address for further action. Email: