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:
- "dear friend" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "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)
- This email message is a "dying widow" scam.
Fraud email example:
From: Josan Nowak <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 11 Oct 2021 02:07:51 -0700
Subject: Your Attention Is Needed In This Matter
My Dear Friend
May this letter find you in good faith and may you receive this letter
with peace of mind and with due respect as it may be very strange to
you as we have not communicated or know each other before. My present
condition is very desperate and that is why I decided to contact you
through this means to come to my aid.
My name is Mrs. Josan but I am married to the late Wilson Nowak from
Cote d Ivoire. We were married for 20 years and had only one Son
called Eric. My husband died after a brief illness that lasted for two
years. Since his death I decided not to re-marry or get a child
outside my matrimonial home. When my late husband was alive he
deposited this $3.5 Million Dollars in a bank for foreign investment.
Presently this money is still in the bank.
I am undergoing a medical treatment.I have cancer, recently my doctor
is trying but the sickness is getting worse. Having known my condition
I decided to contact you through email to help me invest the money in
your country on behalf of my Son Eric. You will take care of my son
and will help him continue with his education once he arrives in your
country to meet you.
What pains me so much is that my late husband's relatives seized his
company immediately after the death of my husband and nothing was left
for me and my Son. I am here with my laptop computer and I don't need
any telephone communication in this regard due to the presence of my
late husband's relatives around me. I don't want them to know about
As soon as I receive your reply , I shall give you more information on
what you should do to receive the money to your bank account for the
Hoping to receive your reply.
Mrs. Josan Nowak