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)
- "atm card department" (this phrase is often used in the ATM card payment scam)
- "western union" (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. )
- "power of attorney" (with your bank details and a power of attorney form criminals sometimes empty bank accounts)
- "abuja" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- "remain blessed" (scammers in West Africa like to use religious phrases)
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
- Barristers (lawyers) mentioned in 419 scams are always fake.
- Western Union money transfer is completely untraceable and therefore is *not* safe to use with anyone you do not know personally. It is the preferred method of online criminals to collect money from their victims.
- This email lists mobile phone numbers. Use of such numbers is typical for scams because they allow criminals to conceal their true location. They can receive calls in an Internet cafe from where they send you emails, while pretending to be in some office.
- 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.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Gmail/GoogleMail; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: IMF Office <email@example.com>
Date: Mon, 27 Dec 2021 20:16:01 -0800
Subject: Good Day My Friend,
FROM IMF OFFICE ABUJA NIGERIA.
Director: Mrs,Amine Mati
No,9 Hon.Justice Mohammed Bello St.
Asokoro Abuja Nigeria.
Tel: + 23481 7079 8660
My name is Amine Mati, The IMF Director Abuja Nigeria (Unit"09"
I want to inform you Personally,that your funds payment file
was brought to my office this morning for me to cancel your
funds because the Bank directors/ Western union and ATM
Card department here in Nigeria said that I should divert
your funds to the Government Treasury account since can not
afford to pay for the fee of your funds which is
$350.00 only before you start receiving your funds, in this
words,they said that you abandon your funds for some time,
while the 2021 annual financial budget will be done this week.
But my spirit did not allow me to cancel your funds because
I know the value of what you are about to receive.
Now I have told the Bank Directors/ The Western Union and ATM Card
department to wait until I hear from you today and I will know
the reason you rejected such amount of ($1.9Millions USD )
I know it can be able to change your life for good just
because of $350.00.
However,I am here to remind you that the fee has been paid by Rev.Doreen,the
only required and mandatory fee you have to come up with is
(demur-rage charge)which will cost you $105.00.for your file update.
I want your urgent response or you call me at +(23481 7079 8660
as soon as you receive this email to explain to me the reason you
abandon your funds,or if you don't need it again,then I will send
you have a power of attorney which you will sign and I will change
your name to another person so that the Government will not
claim this money that is left for you back at the end of this year 2021.
I will wait to hear from you as soon as possible.
Thanks and Remain Blessed
The IMF Director