What to do if you receive a scam email

Nigerian and Other Scams - What To Do If You Receive a Scam Email

Back to the "How to Recognize a AFF/Nigerian Scam" page

The Bottom Line: What to Know and Do In Response to an AFF (Advance Fee Fraud) Email

If you receive an offer vian email from someone claiming to need your help getting money out of Nigeria (or any other country, for that matter):

  • If you don't see it on the CFR website, forward a copy of the email to CFR at
    and to the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.gov. See below for FTC online complaint forms.
  • don't respond to the emails
  • don't EVER pay any money or fees
  • don't reveal your full identity
  • don't reveal any financial or personal information, such as your bank account number, social security number, driver's license number, passport number or credit card details
  • don't ever travel to meet them

U.S. Federal law enforcement authorities are intercepting and destroying millions of foreign Nigerian money scam mailings sent or delivered by the truckload into the U.S. And consumers, lured by prospects of instant wealth, are responding to the solicitations that do get through-to the tune of $120 million a year, according to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has these words of caution for consumers who are thinking about responding to an emailed money scam:

  • If you agree to launder money (that's what it is called when you take money that isn't yours and put it in your bank account) - you're violating U.S. federal law, so don't expect any help from the government.  You might be able to meet John Gotti in prison, though.
  • If you reply to the email, expect to receive MANY more bogus offers as well as be hounded by the perpetrators.  If you meet them, expect to be robbed, tortured and possibly, killed. At the very least, your name will be placed on "sucker lists" that fraudulent telemarketers buy and sell.
  • Keep your credit card and bank account numbers to yourself. Scam artists often ask for them during an unsolicited sales pitch.

What else to do

The bottom line, according to the FTC: Ignore all mail and phone solicitations for money schemes.

To report telemarketing fraud of any kind, contact your state Attorney General.

Unsolicited email offers, like other commercial e-mail solicitations, must comply with the CAN-SPAM Act, effective January 1, 2004. This federal law mandates, among other things, that subject lines be honest and consumers can easily opt-out of receiving additional e-mails. (For more information on CAN-SPAM)

IMPORTANT: Which FTC Complaint Form to Use?

  • Click here to file a complaint about a lottery scam

  • See sample scam emails here

  • If you want to file a complaint about a violation of National Do Not Call Registry or register your telephone number on the Registry, click here

  • If you want to file a report about Identity Theft, please use the FTC's Identity Theft Complaint Form.

  • If you have a specific complaint about unsolicited commercial e-mail (spam), use the form below. You can forward spam directly to the Commission at SPAM@UCE.GOV without using the complaint form.

  • If you want to file a complaint about an online transaction that involves a foreign company, please click here to use the econsumer.gov complaint form.


  • Below is a list of many known lottery scams.  Many originate in London, but they may use any address.  Similarly, they change their names frequently.  Recognize a scam not merely by it's name and location, but simply by the practice described above.  And remember:
    If it sounds too good to be true: IT IS!!!!

And for additional useful government websites:

Names of Scam / Fake / Fraud Lottery 

Click here for the huge list of the names of the currently identified lottery scams companies

How to Report a Scam

Finally, for a complete list of government agencies to which you can report scams, see this page!


Summer allergies  air filter