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:
- 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:
- "will come to you as a surprise" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- This email message is a fake lottery scam. Consider the following facts about real lotteries:
- They don't notify winners by email.
- You can't win without first buying a lottery ticket.
- They don't randomly select email addresses to award prizes to.
- They don't use free email accounts (Yahoo, Hotmail, etc) to communicate with you.
- They don't tell you to call a mobile phone number.
- They don't tell you to keep your winnings secret.
- They will never ask a winner to pay any fees to receive a prize!
- 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 (AOL; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: "You Have Won Microsoft Promotions" (may be fake)
Date: Fri, 3 Dec 2010 05:06:54 +0100
Subject: ****SPAM**** HIGH * FREE***
Winner No. 005,
It is obvious that this notification will come to you as a surprise but please find time to read it carefully as we congratulate you over your success in the
following official publication of results of the E-mail electronic online Sweepstakes organized by Microsoft Corporation, in conjunction with the
foundation for the promotion of software products, (F.P.S.) held in Amsterdam- The Netherlands.
A Payment of 615.810.00 Euros (Six hundred and fifteen Thousand, Eight Hundred and Ten Euros only) will be paid in your name.
It is important to note that your award was released with the following particulars attached to it.
(1) File Number: F1267-2010
(2) Ref. Code: KP23/857/MCL5 /CO
(3) Grant Number: MICC/97846563459/206
Forward The Following Information as Listed Below and Send to Microsoft Agency NL.
Microsoft Group Agency NL:
Director: Dr.David Bengal
Contact Email: email@example.com
Tel: +31 647 269 452
Soon as the Above Information is received Through E-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org, your payment will be processed and paid to you.
Mrs. Angela Banks
Head Customer care Service