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:
- "dear friend" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "i will like you to " (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "million 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)
- This email message is a "dying merchant" scam.
Fraud email example:
From: "Thomas James" (may be fake)
Date: Sun, 10 Oct 2010 16:10:19 -0500
Dear Friend ,
I am Thomas James., A Portuguese national,I was browsing and I saw your e-mail,
So i decided to write you if your e-mail is real, I have been diagnosed with esophageal
cancer. It has defiled all forms of medical treatment, and right now I have only
about a few months to live. I am very rich, but was never generous; I have given
most of my assets to my immediate family members.
I have decided to give alms to charity organizations. I cannot do this myself
anymore because of my health. I once asked members of my family to give some
money to charity organizations, they refused and kept the money. I have a huge
cash deposit of Eighteen Million dollars with a finance House abroad. I will
want you to help me collect this deposit and dispatch it to charity
organizations. You will take out 20% of these funds for your assistance.
I will like you to acknowledge the receipt of this e-mail as soon as possible and
treats with absolute confidentiality and sincerity.