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)
- "million us 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)
- "god fearing " (scammers in West Africa like to use religious phrases)
- This email message is a "dying widow" scam.
Fraud email example:
From: "Mrs Joy Praise" (may be fake)
Date: Wed, 20 Apr 2011 12:24:48 -0400
Subject: PLEASE DO NOT IGNORE THIS.
Greetings in the name of God please let this not sound strange to you for my only surviving lawyer who would have done this died early last year.
I prayed and got your email address from your country guest book. I am Mrs Joy Praise from AUSTRALIA, I am 58 years old, I am suffering from a long time cancer of the lungs which also affected my brain, from all indication my conditions is really deteriorating and it is quite obvious that, according to my doctors they have advised me that I may not live for the next two months, this is because the cancer stage has gotten to a very bad stage. I was brought up from a motherless babys home and was married to my late husband for twenty years without a child, my husband died in a fatal motor accident, before his death we were true believers. Since his death I decided not to re-marry, I sold all my inherited belongings and deposited all the sum of 10 Million US Dollars with CENTER STATES BANK OF FLORIDA.
Presently, this money is still with them and the management just wrote me as the true owner to come forward to receive the money for keeping it so long or rather issue a letter of authorization to somebody to receive it on my behalf since I can not come over because of my illness or they get it confiscated. Presently, I'm with my laptop in a hospital here in NETHERLAND where I have been undergoing treatment for cancer of the lungs.
My doctors have told me that I have only a few months to live. It is my last wish to see that this money is invested to any organization of your choice and distributed each year among the charity organization, the poor and the motherless babys home.
I want you as God fearing person, to also use this money to fund church, mosque, orphanages and widows, I took this decision, before I rest in peace because my time will soon be up. As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the CENTER STATES BANK. I will also issue you a letter of authority that will prove you as the new beneficiary of my fund.
Here is my private contact email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I stated herein.
Hoping to hear from you soon
Waiting for your reply
Mrs Joy Praise