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:
- "money laundering" ("anti-terrorist", "anti-money laundering" or "drug-free" certificates are a common way for criminals in fake lottery scams and other Advance Fee scams to get you to send money to them. There are no such certificates in the real banking world. )
- This email message is a "dying widow" scam.
- 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 (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: "Mrs. Sharon Chao" <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2022 04:56:15 +0100
Subject: Hello Beloved,
I am Mrs.Sharon S. Chao the wife of the late Mr. Richard Chao. I am an
Indonesian American Citizen. My husband worked with the Brunei Shell
Petroleum Co Sdn Bhd (BSP) for twenty years before he died in 2010.
We were married for ten years without a child. My Husband died after a
brief illness that lasted for only two weeks. Since his death I decided not
to re-marry or get a child outside my matrimonial home. When my late
husband was alive we deposited the sum of $15.2 million with a bank which I
will tell you later. The bank management just wrote me as the beneficiary
to come forward to sign for the release of this fund or rather issue a
letter of authorization to somebody to receive it on my behalf if I can not
Presently, I'm in a hospital where I have been undergoing treatment for
esophageal cancer. My doctor has told me that I have only a few months to
live. It is my last wish to see this money distributed to charity
organizations, Because my husband, relatives and friends have plundered so
much of my wealth since my illness, I cannot live with the agony of
entrusting this huge responsibility to any of them.
Please, I'm seeking for any honest person who will get the Funds from the
Bank. And use this money to fund the poor, orphanages, widows and charity
I took this decision because I don't have any child that will inherit this
money and I don't want my husband's hard earned money to be misused by his
I don't want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly
manner. Hence the reason for taking this bold decision. I am not afraid of
death hence I know where I am going if I die. Due to the state of my
health. I can not communicate by phone because my illness has affected my
throat. I prefer to communicate by email.
As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact details of my
lawyer who is conversant with the unclaimed funds and my present situation.
However I shall forward to you the bank details with the letter I will give
you as she will be the one to assist you in laying claims for these funds.
Above all, I wish to assure you that the funds in question are not an act
of Terrorist Funding, neither Money Laundering nor Drug-funding. Thus, the
transfer will follow the normal protocol of funds transfer, backed up with
its papers so that you will not encounter any difficulties/problems with
your Federal Monetary Control authorities. Contact me with my private email
(firstname.lastname@example.org) or you can drop your E-mail address with me .
Mrs.Sharon S. Chao