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:
- "hundred thousand united states dollars" (they want you to be blinded by the prospect of quick money, but the only money that ever changes hands in 419 scams is from you to the criminals)
- "lagos" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
- 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.
- email@example.com (India Times, India; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: "MR BEN OKE" (may be fake)
Date: Tue, 9 Mar 2010 19:01:37 +0100
Subject: **SPAM** =?utf-8?Q?[Spam]_-_?=IN SEARCH OF AN AGENT
MR BEN OKE
I am the chairman of the contract awarding committee, federal ministry of petroleum resources, Nigeria I am in search of an agent to assist us in the transfer of (US$50,4m FIFTY MILLION, FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND UNITED STATES DOLLARS. And subsequent investment in properties in your country
You will be required to:
(1) Assist in the transfer of the said sum
(2) Advise on lucrative areas for investment
(3) Assist us in purchase of properties.
If you decide to render your service to us in this regard, 20% of the total sum will be offered to you. Please reply as soon as possible.
MR BEN OKE
Chairman Contract Awarding Committee