How to Spot a 419 Scam

Temporary Background of 419 Scams

This can be a very temporary description of a 419 rip-off and I can’t even scratch the floor right here. A number of elements of the 419 rip-off goes past the scope of this text and I plan to debate them in future articles. The 419 rip-off (Nigerian 4-One-9) obtained its title from the article of the Nigerian Legal Code coping with fraud. Scammers typically demand upfront funds for doubtful causes like processing charges, authorized bills or to bribe sure officers, due to this fact the rip-off additionally turned referred to as Advance Payment Fraud. A 419 rip-off begins with an unsolicited e-mail from a scammer promising an enormous sum of cash, however the scammer will create the impression that you’ll want to make a few upfront funds earlier than you possibly can lay your arms on this non-existent fund. These upfront funds are usually a drop within the bucket, in comparison with the large sum of cash you’ll obtain in the long run. This makes the rip-off very engaging to unwary and uninformed individuals, who’re determined for some additional money.

The Significance of Recognizing a 419 Rip-off

Prevention is crucial purpose behind the profitable identification of 419 scams, however this isn’t the one purpose. Registrars, internet hosting corporations, Web Service Suppliers and Regulation Enforcement additionally must familiarise themselves with the frequent traits of 419 scams, as a result of their help and cooperation play an enormous half within the battle in opposition to 419 fraud.

Sadly, many registrars and internet hosting corporations fail to take a stand in opposition to the fraudulent actions of 419 swindlers. Registrars refuse to droop the domains of identified scammers and internet hosting corporations fail to implement their Acceptable Use Insurance policies (AUP). There’s a purpose why registrars and internet hosting corporations are hesitant to droop the accounts of 419 scammers… Cash! These swindlers are their shoppers, so they’re comfortable to host their fraudulent web sites and help their spamming companies. With some registrars sadly, you’ll by no means win, not even in case you are Sherlock Holmes. They’re merely ignorant to the 419 rip-off downside and don’t care concerning the lives being destroyed by these scams.

To all of the unethical registrars and internet hosting corporations on the market, do not inform me you have got a tough time figuring out Advance Payment Fraud web sites, in case you personal a groceries retailer, will you knowingly promote Marijuana to your prospects? Maybe that was a silly query. Should you do not thoughts internet hosting a fraudulent web site, you’ll in all probability haven’t any downside promoting Marijuana to your prospects. However what’s the massive distinction right here? If the cops catch you promoting unlawful medicine to the general public, you possibly can kiss your retailer goodbye, however it’s a frequent false impression that the cops will not do a factor in opposition to a registrar who refuses to droop the area of a fraudulent web site. The precise purpose why registrars get away with homicide is as a result of complainants don’t wish to undergo all of the hassles of submitting a grievance with the police and the cops generally do not need a clue learn how to strategy a case like this, even when there are legal guidelines you should use to your benefit. Sure, I’m conscious that your native police division will not have any jurisdiction over a webmaster in another country, however even when they did, you might be unlikely to get anyplace with a case like this, if you do not have deep pockets and the registrars know that.

I perceive that registrars can not go suspending domains left and proper on a mere request or tip from the general public, they should conduct an intensive investigation earlier than they’ll take any motion. Abuse departments are swamped with fraud studies every day and on high of that I consider they get their fair proportion of false studies as nicely. Members of the general public must get their information straight earlier than reporting a fraudulent web site to a registrar, this improves the turnaround time of abuse complaints and makes the work of the abuse departments that a lot simpler. I am not saying you have to conduct a full-scale investigation (until you are feeling the necessity to take action), merely take the time to collect all of the proof and current the knowledge to the abuse division in a logical and organised method. So many individuals resort to a fast e-mail like “Hey, try this website, I believe it’s fraudulent.” or “Hey, this man despatched me a fraudulent e-mail and that is his e-mail deal with, please take him out”. Good, you raised consciousness about attainable fraud, however inform the abuse division why you assume the web site is fraudulent. Do not simply ship them an e-mail deal with of the suspect, ship them a replica of the e-mail that was despatched to you and do not simply ahead the rattling factor inline, ahead it as an attachment or embrace the complete header of the e-mail together with the physique. The abuse division will ultimately discover the e-mail deal with of the suspect within the copy that you simply despatched to them.

Correct identification of 419 scams by members of the general public will make these scams much less efficient and can ultimately result in a lower in 419 actions. So lets take a better take a look at the traits of a 419 rip-off.

What To Look For In a 419 Rip-off

1. The topic of the e-mail, in addition to the title and e-mail deal with of the sender:

By analysing the title and e-mail deal with of the sender along side the topic line of the rip-off e-mail, you possibly can simply determine a 419 rip-off earlier than opening it. Recognizing a 419 rip-off at first look minimises the chance of falling for the rip-off and saves you time (you do not have to learn by all of the mumbo jumbo of the scammer). This additionally simplifies the duty of reporting 419 scams to cyber safety authorities.

Typical traits of topic traces, names and e-mail addresses utilized in 419 scams:


  • Scammers like to disguise their true identification with the names of excessive profile figures like State Presidents, Ministers, Ambassadors, Administrators, and so forth.
  • Topic traces are sometimes typed in uppercase letters solely.
  • They use free e-mail companies like Yahoo, GMail, Hotmail/Reside, or a free ISP e-mail account. These free e-mail accounts are utilized in instances the place one would count on an e-mail from an official e-mail deal with and surprisingly sufficient, there are nonetheless individuals who fall for this lame trick
  • There’s typically an overdriven use of formal {and professional} titles like Mr, Mrs, Dr, Barr, Sgt., Lt, and so forth.
  • Topic traces typically have a false sense of urgency.
  • The title of the sender is repeated within the topic line.
  • Many scammers mistake the Topic for the From discipline and vice versa.
  • Generic greetings like, “My Pricey”“Pricey Beloved”“Greetings to you”, “Dearest Brother” or “Pricey Sir/Madam” are generally used as a topic line.
  • Many scammers are hypocrites who faux to be devoted Christians and can use topic traces like: GREETING IN THE NAME OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST”, “My Pricey Beloved within the Lord“Goodness Of God Will Be Upon You”, or “YOU ARE THE LORD CHOSEN ONE“.
  • Topic traces include notices about “Funds”“Lotteries”“Financial institution Drafts”“Compensation”“Funds” and different monetary associated phrases.
  • The topic line typically incorporates an instruction to contact a selected particular person, division or organisation. For instance “Contact my secretary”“Contact the fiduciary agent”“Contact the financial institution official”“Contact the ATM Division of…” or “Contact FedEx”.
  • Scammers at all times provide you with the strangest and most outrageous e-mail addresses, particularly in eventualities the place it’s fairly apparent that the e-mail account is faux. For instance, a scammer pretending to be an official from the FBI will use a foolish e-mail deal with like . The FBI have their very own area and e-mail servers, so there isn’t a legitimate purpose for utilizing an e-mail account from one other area, or a free e-mail service like Yahoo! or GMail.
  • It’s common follow amongst 419 scammers to make use of an e-mail deal with that consists of a proper title, a reputation and surname. For instance, Mr. John Doe will use an e-mail deal with like .
  • It is vitally widespread amongst 419 scammers to begin their topic traces with the phrases: “From the Desk Of”.
  • Lottery scams typically have a reference quantity for the topic line. For instance “Award Discover (Ref: LSUK/2031/8161/05)”


This isn’t an exhaustive checklist of traits, however is actually a set of the most typical traits discovered within the topic traces, e-mail addresses and names of 419 scammers.

2. Questions you’ll want to ask your self earlier than analysing a 419 rip-off any additional:

With a purpose to reply these questions you’ll want to open the e-mail and browse its contents. At this level, you do not want to concentrate to particular particulars within the e-mail, you solely want to find out what the e-mail is all about.


  • Is the e-mail an unsolicited and surprising job, mortgage or enterprise provide from an unknown particular person?
  • Is it a few lottery or competitors you by no means entered? (Keep in mind: Having your e-mail deal with randomly drawn from a listing doesn’t depend as a legitimate entry for a contest).
  • Have you ever obtained an enormous donation from a non-profit organisation?
  • Are you appointed as the subsequent of kin of a complete stranger?
  • Do want to assist a foreigner to clear a consignment field, containing hundreds of thousands of {dollars}, declared as one thing else to a diplomatic courier service?
  • Is the e-mail supposedly from an American Soldier, doing service in Iraq, who found hundreds of thousands of {dollars} and must get the cash overseas?
  • Is the e-mail an unsolicited request to maintain orphans, ship Bibles to a church or provide monetary help to sick and hungry individuals in Africa?
  • Are you appointed, because the beneficiary of a fund, the place the proprietor of the fund is at the moment dying of most cancers?
  • Is the e-mail concerning the restoration of cash or property that had been by no means stolen from you within the first place?
  • Have you ever been awarded an unsolicited financial institution draft on your philanthropic efforts? Is the e-mail about an excellent/delayed fee for a contract with some authorities, however you by no means entered into such an settlement otherwise you by no means even performed enterprise with them in any respect?


Should you answered YES to ANY of those questions, you might be most undoubtedly coping with a rip-off.

Now ask your self the next questions:


  • Did you count on the e-mail?
  • Have you learnt the sender in particular person?
  • Did the sender point out your title in his/her preliminary e-mail?
  • Does the sender have every other private details about you (moreover your title)? If that’s the case, did the sender provide a legitimate, reliable supply of the place he/she obtained the knowledge?


Should you answered NO to no less than 50% of those questions, you might be almost certainly coping with a 419 rip-off.

All the time keep in mind the golden rule, if it sounds to good to be true, it in all probability is!

3. Analysing the contents of the e-mail:

If the title and e-mail deal with of the sender, the topic line of the e-mail or the story of the sender leaves you clueless concerning the legitimacy of the e-mail, you’ll have to analyse the contents of the e-mail in larger element.

The next traits are telltale indicators of a 419 rip-off e-mail


  • The Reply-To e-mail deal with is totally different from the originating e-mail deal with. Scammers do that to make sure they obtain your reply, in case their service supplier shuts down their e-mail account. Some scammers will spoof the “From” e-mail deal with with an official e-mail deal with.
  • If the sender doesn’t present a Reply-To e-mail deal with, he/she’s going to specify an alternate e-mail deal with, within the physique of the e-mail.
  • Typically the sender doesn’t solely present a distinct Reply-To handle, but additionally a totally totally different alias. The scammer desires to create the impression that you’re sending your replies to a totally totally different particular person, however it’s really the identical scammer working each e-mail accounts, each underneath a distinct alias.
  • The entire e-mail, or massive parts of it, is typed in capital letters.
  • The e-mail begins with a generic greeting(as already mentioned). Most scammers merely shoot at nighttime after they distribute their rip-off e-mails, so they do not know your title and can due to this fact not point out it within the e-mail. (By no means assume an e-mail is reputable simply because the sender knew your title. I’ve seen a number of 419 rip-off e-mails the place the scammer already knew the title, final title and even the bodily deal with of the recipient).
  • The sender faux to care concerning the well-being of your loved ones with greetings like: “Good Day, How are you as we speak? I presume all is nicely with you and your loved ones.” Imagine me, 419 scammers do not give a rattling about your loved ones, they’re solely making an attempt to earn your belief by pretending to care. Different 419 scammers have an apologetic perspective proper from the beginning, for instance: “Pricey, Please settle for my honest apologizes if my e mail doesn’t meet your corporation or private ethics.
  • The recipient of the e-mail must reply with private particulars like his/her full title, phone and fax quantity(s), residential deal with, start date, gender, title and deal with of Subsequent of Kin, banking particulars, occupation, marital standing and nationality. Some scammers request a scanned copy of your picture ID, worldwide passport or your driver’s licence, so they aren’t solely after a photograph of your self, additionally they need your identification quantity or social safety quantity.
  • Scammers typically request some ridiculous data from their victims. For instance your e-mail deal with (they already made contact with you, why would they want your e-mail deal with once more?), the nation that you simply stay in (even when they already requested on your residential deal with and/or nationality) or the sum of money that you simply gained (within the case of a lottery rip-off).
  • The most typical phone numbers offered by 419 scammers are from South Africa (nation code +27), Republic of Benin (nation code +229), Nigeria (nation code +234) and Netherlands (nation code +31), however I’ve additionally seen phone numbers from Sweden (nation code +46), China (nation code +86), Turkey (nation code +90) and Malaysia (nation code +60).
  • Scammers at all times put loads of emphasis on holding the information of the prize cash or inheritance fund strictly confidential. There’s a good purpose for this, they do not need you to speak to different individuals about this as a result of somebody would possibly realise that you’re being conned and inform you that the e-mail is a rip-off.
  • 419 scammers insist on utilizing a sure cash switch service (whose title I am not allowed to say on
  • Rip-off e-mails include a great deal of spelling errors and horrible grammar. Nevertheless this isn’t a rule of thumb. Many 419 scammers have upped the requirements and compose extremely skilled e-mails lately.
  • 419 scams contain large sums of cash, however the sufferer usually shares in solely a small a part of this fund. Nevertheless, the alleged fund is so large that even a small proportion of the fund can imply hundreds of thousands of {dollars} for the sufferer. This makes the rip-off very engaging to the victims, even when they solely get a small reduce out of the deal.
  • Many 419 scammers create the impression that they’ve been in touch with you previously and that they didn’t switch some large fund to you on a earlier event. It’s actually exhausting to consider that individuals will fall for such a lame story, as a result of if you cannot recall doing enterprise with these idiots, why would you reply within the first place. This solely proves that 419 scammers are capitalising on the weak point of grasping individuals.
  • 419 scammers can generally be fairly philosophical, for instance they are going to say one thing like this within the introductory line of their rip-off e-mail: “This letter should come to you as a shock, however I consider it’s only a day that individuals meet and grow to be nice associates and enterprise companions.” Yeah, no matter! It’s only a day that individuals meet and grow to be scammer and sufferer.

Traits of particular forms of 419 scams:



  • Lottery Scams practically nearly have a line that reads one thing like this: “…winners had been chosen by a particular web poll system from 40,000 people and corporations E-mail addresses.” Some Lottery scammers put it like this: “…attracts was [sic] carried out by random sampling in our computerized E-mail choice machine TOTAL from a database of over 1,000,000 E-mail addresses drawn from all of the continents of the world,and the Globe divided into Zones.”
  • Most Lottery Scams have a foolish disclaimer like this: “NOTE:You’re to maintain all lottery data away from most people particularly your Successful numbers. That is vital as a case of double claims is not going to be entertained and can quantity to disqualification of your already gained prize.”
  • In lots of Subsequent of Kin Scams you miraculously have the identical final title because the deceased, nonetheless the scammer fairly conveniently forgets to say the final title of the deceased within the preliminary e-mail. The trick right here is to get the sufferer to answer along with his/her private data after which use the final title of the sufferer on the solid dying certificates and related documentation.
  • Though it’s not a rule of thumb, most Firm Consultant scammers provide 10% of their “revenue” to their victims. For some purpose they like to make use of 10%, however I’ve seen scams the place they solely provide 5% and different, “extra beneficiant” scammers who provide as much as 30%.
  • An Inheritance Fund Rip-off usually includes a corrupt banking official who allegedly stumbled throughout an deserted account of a deceased billionaire, or it’s somebody who cannot entry the inheritance of a member of the family resulting from varied causes. The scammer typically wants your assist to get the cash out of his/her nation.
  • Inheritance Fund Scammers typically present hyperlinks to information articles to again their information (or ought to I say lies). As an illustration a scammer will use a airplane crash as a foundation for his/her story and supply hyperlinks on a information website like
  • In a Financial institution Draft Rip-off, the scammer refers to a earlier deal that failed and now you must contact his/her secretary as a result of he/she left you a financial institution draft and hasn’t been in a position to ship it to you, as a result of he/she is busy with different “funding” initiatives.
  • Some Inheritance Fund Scammers faux to ship you the cash through a pre-paid Visa or Maestro ATM card.
  • The Job Provide Rip-off usually includes a job in another country, so the sufferer has to use for a visa. That is how the scammers make their cash. Victims should pay a small price to a sure firm who will organize the visa for them. I seek advice from a small price as a result of the price is often somewhat mud particle in comparison with the remuneration being supplied to the sufferer.
  • The Compensation Rip-off typically includes scammers who faux to work for the United Nations or the FBI. These scammers faux to compensate victims of 419 scams. How lame are you able to get?
  • ATM Card Scammers faux to be very sort by paying sure processing charges and a drug legislation clearance price in your behalf. The drug legislation clearance price is to certify that the cash issued in your title, don’t stem from any cash laundering actions. That is just for the bluff and the scammers solely attempt to give their victims peace of thoughts. They will cook dinner up any bloody certificates, you’ll nonetheless be an confederate in cash laundering in case you help them in shifting funds by your checking account.
  • 419 scammers, utilizing the story of the soldier in Iraq, who found an enormous sum of cash, at all times have some obscure plan to get the cash overseas. The most typical one is transport through a diplomatic courier who has diplomatic immunity.
  • A number of 419 scams about some sort of pending fee will state one thing like this: “…we had been notified that you’ve got waited for thus lengthy to obtain this fee with out success, we additionally confirmed that you’ve got met all statutory necessities in respect of your pending fee.”
  • Diplomatic Immunity Fee scammers typically use the lame excuse that digital fund transfers have resulted in funds being made to incorrect financial institution accounts, so they’re transport you the cash in chilly exhausting money. These scams typically include a discover like this: “Observe: The cash is approaching 2 safety proof containers. The containers are sealed with artificial nylon seal and padded with machine.” The scammers typically declare that they declared the contents of those containers as “Delicate Photographic Movie Materials”.
  • Some Inheritance Fund scammers allocate the funds within the ratio of 60% for the scammer, 30% for the sufferer and 10% for processing charges.


That is by far not a complete checklist of 419 traits. Many of the particular particulars on this article will grow to be outdated as time goes by. In the present day, many 419 scammers declare of their preliminary e-mail that they’ve paid the upfront price on behalf of the sufferer. Many victims will bail out when the scammer mentions an upfront fee, so the effectiveness of those scams declined over time and the scammers needed to improvise. Nevertheless these fools will point out some sort of fee throughout the rip-off and vigilant individuals will bail out as soon as once more.

419 scammers by no means conform to any sort of commonplace, so it’s exhausting to put down a inflexible algorithm for figuring out 419 scams. 419 scams are identical to every other sort of spam, there are hundreds of thousands of spammers on the market, however loads of these spammers use the identical templates and methods. After some time the templates and methods grow to be frequent information and the spammers want to seek out new and revolutionary methods of infiltrating our mailboxes and our minds.

One factor that can sustain with the evolution of 419 scams is frequent sense. Nobody will ever be capable to train you all of the methods within the guide, as a result of there’ll at all times be no less than one trick you did not consider. Studying between the traces, being vigilant and making use of a little bit of scepticism in direction of e-mails from an unknown supply, could be a very efficient weapon in opposition to online dating scams recovery fraud.

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