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:
- "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)
- "keep this confidential" (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 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
- 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 (Hotmail; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
- http://email@example.com kind regards, mrs. christy walton. please contact my (Hotmail; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: "Mrs. Chrity Walton" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2012 00:47:01 +0200
Subject: Help Me Distribute The Funds To Charity Organizations
My name is Christy Walton, a widow and
businesswoman, an American Citizen. I have
recently been diagnosed with Colorectal cancer
and a rare HeartDisease, which has defiled all
medical treatment. Expert diagnosis has shown
that I have few months to live.
The intention of this email is to employ the
expertise of a Charity minded individual, who
can identify a viable and guarantee reasonable
distribution of my wealth to the needy.
I cannot rely on family and closest relatives
any more, as they did not show responsible
behavior when I entrusted part of my wealth
to them to distribute to charitable organizations
but instead used the money for their personal
needs. To prevent any more mishaps, my attorney
will act as a check, monitoring every aspect of
the Charity Organizations. I have a huge cash
deposit of Thirty Five Million Dollars with a
finance House abroad. If you could be trusted,
I will want you to help me collect this deposit
and distribute it to charity organizations that
You will take out 25% of the funds for your
assistance. Please reply me back with your below
details to enable us proceed further and please
keep this confidential.
Mrs. Christy Walton.
Please contact my private E-mail: email@example.com