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.
Click here to report a problem with this page.
Some comments by the Scam-O-Matic about the following email:
- An email address listed inside this email has been used in a known fraud before.
- 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 sir/madam" (a standard Nigerian greeting phrase)
- "your urgent reply" (scammers rush victims so they don't have time to think properly)
- "utmost confidentiality" (scammers urge victims to keep the transaction secret because they don't want anyone to point out to them that it is a scam)
- "observe utmost confidentiality" (scammers urge victims to keep the transaction secret because they don't want anyone to point out to them that it is a scam)
- This email message is a next of kin scam.
- 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.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: "mark owen" <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 2010 15:22:05 +0300 (MSK)
Subject: Urgent Business
First, I must apologize to you for using this medium to communicate to you
about this proposal. I am Mr. Mark Owen, Manager Standard Bank of South
Africa , Cape Town , and branch. I have an investment programmed for you.A
foreign mining consultant/contractor with the South Africa Mining
Corporation, Mr. Roger Beck made a huge numbered time (Fixed) deposit for
twelve calendar months, in my branch but died from an automobile accident
without making a WILL and did not declare any kin or relations in all his
official documents, including his bank deposit paperwork in my bank.
No one will ever come forward to claim it. According to South African Law,
at the expiration of 7 (Seven) years, the money will revert to the
ownership of the South Africa government if nobody applies to claim the
fund. Consequently, my proposal is that I will like you as a foreigner to
stand in as the next of kin to Mr. Roger Beck so that the fruits of this
old man's labor will not get into the hands of some corrupt government
officials. The money will be shared in the ratio of 60% for me and 40% for
Please observe utmost confidentiality, and rest assured that this
transaction would be most profitable for both of us because I shall
require your assistance to invest my share in your country. Get back to me
if you are interested for more details of this transaction. Please kindly
contact me directly on (firstname.lastname@example.org). Do also call me on +27
83 495 6621 .
I await your urgent reply.
Thanks and regards.