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:
- "claims agent" (real lotteries do not use a "claim agent" / "fiduciary agent")
- ",500,000" (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)
- "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 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.
- +31616721821 (Netherlands, prepaid mobile phone)
Fraud email example:
From: "Internet Lottery Promotions" (may be fake)
Date: Sat, 6 Jun 2009 11:12:56 +0200
Subject: ALERT: REACH OUT NOW!
PRIZE/PROMOTION AWARD DEPT.
CATEGORY "A" WINNER
Ref No: RGM/1313-101
Batch Number: NL 80 OS 94144448
Amount Won: $2,500,000.00
We are pleased to inform you of the result of the Internet Promotional Draws. This is a reward program for the patronage of internet services and all email addresses entered for this promotional draws were randomly selected from an internet resource database of of registered software and domain users.
Your email address was selected in the Category "A" with Reference Number RGM/1313-101, and this qualifies you to be the recipient of the grand prize award sum of $2,500,000 (Two million, five hundred thousand dollars). The payout of this cash prize to you will be subject to the final validations and satisfactory report that you are the bonafide owner of the winning email address.
In line with the governing rules of claim, you are required to establish contact with your designated claims agent via email or telephone with the particulars below:
Name: Mr. Leon Becker
Phone: +31 616 721 821
You are advised to call the Claims agent for confirmation or provide the following information for processing the payment of your cash award.
Winning Reference Number:
Failure to complete the claims of your cash prize after 14 days of this notice will result in the revision of award. Hence, you should commence your claims process immediately, by contacting the claims agent (Mr. Leon Becker) who would be guiding you through the Claims process.
Congratulations on your Winning Prize and we look forward to completing your payout soon.