‘Nigerian letter’ or ‘419’ scams, as well as ‘lottery’ or ‘Spanish lottery’ scams, attempt to lure victims into a type of fraud known as an ‘illegal advance fee’. They typically arrive via email.

Criminals send out millions of these fraudulent spam emails to random email addresses in the hope of enticing someone to respond.

Although the stories in these scams vary widely, after an initial exchange of conversation or emails with the victim, they all usually ask victims to provide bank account or personal details in order to receive a fictitious financial windfall.

The promised windfall may be lottery winnings, a huge inheritance, a multi-million dollar bank transfer, etc. While the windfall payment is never made, victims pay large sums of money to cover various false costs and fees.

As a general rule, we recommend that you apply the standard ‘physical world’ test to any online proposition: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You can learn more about scams at

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