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:
- 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:
- "claims agent" (real lotteries do not use a "claim agent" / "fiduciary agent")
- "into your nominated bank account" (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)
- "00,000.00" (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)
- 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 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.
- email@example.com (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: "MEGA MILLIONS" (may be fake)
Date: Sat, 9 Nov 2013 12:22:54 -0800
Subject: Attn Lucky Winner
Attn Lucky Winner
The Team of Mega Million is Pleased to officially announce you as the Third place prize winner of the Ten Million ($10,000.000.00) prize draw sponsored by Publishing Clearing House. The total amount to be claimed for Fourth place is Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($500,000.00). Congratulations! Mega Millions will make all necessary arrangements for you to receive your prize. Please contact your Claims Agent or representative immediately to avoid delays as you can contact him via e-mail at (firstname.lastname@example.org) or through telephone listed below.
Your Claims Agent is: George Morgan (1-438 930 5671)
Your Security Code is: H649PC32 As required by US Federal and State laws, your Security code and Prize information must be kept strictly confidential which means that you are precluded from discussing your win with 3rd parties such as (family members, friends and relatives). This is to prevent unlawful tampering and a means to reduce risks of fraud and scams from taking place.
As soon as we verify your identity and Security Code number from you, we will immediately release your total sum through wire transfer into your nominated bank account or as you wish us to remit your fund for you.
Once again, Congratulations
Eric D. Burns
Chief Financial Officer