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 sir/madam" (a standard Nigerian greeting phrase)
- "a security company " (this will cost you money - be careful with upfront payments to anyone you only know through email, especially if they promise you a lot of money. NEVER send money by Western Union or MoneyGram to people you do not know personally - NO EXCEPTIONS! Instant wire transfer services are not meant to be used with strangers because they offer no protection against fraud. That is precisely why the criminals want you send money that way. )
- "for your efforts, i am prepared to offer you " (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)
- "huge amount of money" (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)
- ",000,000" (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)
- "your urgent reply" (scammers rush victims so they don't have time to think properly)
- "the key word to this transaction is absolute 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)
- "is 100% risk free" (almost true for the criminal trying to scam you - arrests of online criminals are rare)
- "my direct line" (a "direct line" in a scam usually means an untraceable mobile phone number used by a scammer in an internet cafe, a redirection service number that forwards to a mobile or a free voicemailbox in a different country.)
- "robert mugabe" (the name of a person or institution often appearing 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.
Fraud email example:
From: From David Zuma <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2010 11:38:59 -0800 (PST)
Subject: PLEASE HELP MY FAMILY.
PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL
FROM DAVID ZUMA
My name is MR.DAVID ZUMA, the eldest son of MR FRANK ZUMA,of ZIMBABWE. It might be a surprise to you where I got your contact address, I got it from the South African Information Network Online (SAINO)/South Africa Trade Centre.And it is coming to you with good intention. During the current crises against the farmers of Zimbabwe by the supporters of our President,ROBERT MUGABE to claim all the white owned farms in our country, he ordered all the white farmers to surrender their farms to his party members and their followers.
My father was one of the great and best farmers in the country and knowing that he did not support the presidentâs political ideology, the presidentâs supporters invaded my fatherâs farm burnt down everything, shot him and as a result of the wounds sustained, he became sick and died after five days. And after his death, I with my younger brother decided to move out of Zimbabwe for the safety of our lives to South-Africa.
BUT, before he died HE WROTE HIS WILL, which reads "(MY BELOVEED SON ,I WISH TO DRAW YOUR ATTENTION TO THE SUM OF ($18.5,000,000=00). MILLION U.S DOLLARS WHICH I DEPOSITED IN A BOX WITH A SECURITY COMPANY IN JOHANNESBURG (SOUTH-AFRICA). IN CASE OF MY ABSENCE ON EARTH CAUSED BY DEATH ONLY". You should solicit for reliable foreign partner to assist you to transfer this money out of SOUTH AFRICA for investment purpose.
I deposited the money in your name and it can be claimed by you alone with the deposit code. your mother has all the documents. Take good care of your mother and brother."
From the above, you will understand that the lives and future of my family depends on this money as much, I will be very grateful if you can assist us. I with my younger brother are now living in South-Africa as POLITICAL ASYLUM SEEKERS and the financial law of SOUTH-AFRICA does not allow ASYLUM SEEKERS certain financial rights to such huge amount of money .In view of this, I cannot invest this money in South-Africa,hence I am asking you to assist me transfer this money out of South-Africa for investment purposes. For your efforts, I am prepared to offer you 20% of the total fund, while 5% will be set aside for local and international expenses and 75% will be kept for me and my family .
Finally modalities on how the transfer will be done will be conveyed to you once we establish trust and confidence between ourselves. Looking forward to your urgent reply .For detailed information, Please contact me on my direct line + 27-73-465-5139,or my e-mail address.
NOTE: THE KEY WORD TO THIS TRANSACTION IS ABSOLUTE CONFIDENTIALITY AND SECRECY. THIS TRANSACTION IS 100% RISK FREE. YOUR URGENT RESPONSE WILL BE HIGHLY APPRECIATED.
All the best,
(FOR THE FAMILY)