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:
- "transfer cost" (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)
- ",000,000" (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)
- "deadline" (scammers rush victims so they don't have time to think properly)
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
Fraud email example:
From: "Christopher A. Wray" <email@example.com>
Date: Sun, 12 Dec 2021 02:07:53 -0800
Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services of FBI.
936 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 21545, United States.
Dear beneficiary of Thirty Eight Million 38,000,000.00 United States Dollars.
I'm writing you this email based on a report we got from the Wells
Fargo Bank California branch regarding a total sum of $38.000.000.00
Funds which is deposited into the Wells Fargo Bank to be paid to you.
In the email we received from the Bank, it states that if you have
failed to claim the funds. The CEO of Wells Fargo Bank Mr. Charles W.
Scarf made this report to us so that we shouldn't accuse him or the
Bank of embezzlement or related cases when your funds will be seized.
The $38.000.000.00 was verified and it is legally approved on your
name, all you have to do is to resubmit your full details including
your Bank Information and contact the bank today or tomorrow for your
payment immediately and please inform us as soon as you receive the
outstanding payment of $38.000.000.00.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation F.B.I certified that the sum of
$38.000.000.00 is real after proper scrutiny was made on the source of
the Funds.The Management of Wells Fargo Bank has charged you $380 for
the total transfer cost of your funds as it was explained that $10 is
the cost for transfer 1 Million Dollars that $10*380 which equals it
to US$380 for the US$38 Million Dollars and it is mandatory, you have
pay it immediately or by an installment so that you can receive your
funds before the deadline because every unclaimed funds will be seized
by 13th of December, it means that no payment will be prolonged to
For additional information about this message, please respond back
immediately so that I will give you the Wells Fargo Bank email
Remember, do NOT disclose your Bank Account details, login credentials
or card details and also avoid clicking suspicious links in your email
or text messages.
If you receive any suspicious email claiming to be from us or claiming
to be from any Bank please try and forward it to us because we are
tracking down every scam email as soon as it forwarded to us.
Thank you, I look forward to hearing the great news that you have
finally received your Funds.
Christopher A. Wray
Director of FBI.