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)
- "from the desk of" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "will come to you as a surprise" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "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)
- "urgent assistance" (scammers rush victims so they don't have time to think properly)
- "top secret" (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 next of kin scam.
Fraud email example:
From: harrison ali <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, 25 Jul 2009 09:28:55 +0000
Subject: URGENT BUSINESS PROPOSAL
FROM THE DESK OF HARRISON ALI THE AUDITING AND ACCOUNTING SECTION MANAGER WITH AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK, (A.D.B.) OUAGADOUGOU BURKINA FASO.
I know that this message will come to you as a surprise. I am Harrison Ali, the Auditing and Accounting section manager with African Development Bank, Ouagadougou Burkina faso. I Hope that you will not expose or betray this trust and confident that I am about to repose on you for the mutual benefit of our both families.
I need your urgent assistance in transferring the sum of ($39.5) Million Dollars only to your account within 10 or 14 banking days. This money has been dormant for years in our Bank without claim.I want the bank to release the money to you as the nearest person to our deceased customer late Mr.George Small who died along with his supposed next of kin in an air crash since 31st October 1999.
I don't want the money to go into government treasury as an abandoned fund. So this is the reason why I am contacting you so that the bank can release the money to you as the next of kin to the deceased customer. Please I would like you to keep this proposal as a top secret and delete it if you are not interested.
Upon receipt of your reply, I will give you full details on how the business will be executed and also note that you will have 30% of the above mentioned sum if you agree to handle this business with me.
I am expecting your urgent response as soon as you receive my message.