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:
- "inheritance funds" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "is 100% risk-free" (almost true for the criminal trying to scam you - arrests of online criminals are rare)
- "ecowas " (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.
Fraud email example:
From: James Demba <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, 26 Nov 2021 06:47:48 +0000
Subject: Business Inquiry
International Banking Department
Ecowas Bank for Investment and Development
Subject: Requesting your co-operation to receive (US$10,500, 000.00 ) Ten
Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars inheritance funds into your bank
I am James Demba, a senior staff of the ECOWAS Regional Bank. I am
contacting you to solicit your cooperation concerning our customer Walter
Hook whose entire family were victims of the devastating 8.9-magnitude
earthquake that triggered tsunami through Kesennuma City in Miyagi
Prefecture Japan on Friday 11th March 2011.
Walter Hook The (deceased) has an account balance of (US$10,500, 000.00 )
Ten Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars and about twenty five kilograms
alluvial gold deposited in our bank's custody until the unexpected tragedy
in Japan that wiped out the family. By privilege of being Walter Hook's
personal account supervisor I have his file in my possession and I need
your sincere co-operation to transfer these funds to a safe bank account in
your country because the (deceased) presently has no next of kin to inherit
his estate here.
I do not want to declare these huge sums of money as unclaimed funds which
will just be forfeited to the government, and as a staff of the bank I
cannot personally claim these funds.
We will successfully wind up the transfer of these funds to your preferred
bank account within ambit of law as business associate to Walter Hook the
(deceased) through a transparent legal documentation in your name, is rest
assured that this transaction is 100% risk-free by virtue of my status in
the bank and also my vast experience in the banking sector. I look forward
to work with you for the successful swift transfer of these funds to your
As a seasoned bank do not ask many questions on the possibility or success
of this project because I know how to go about manipulation of the bank
Database to effect needed changes in your name. Upon successful completion
of these into your bank account, I will come over to your country and meet
with you personally so can share the funds 50/50 equal.