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)
- "i will like you to " (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- ",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)
- "united state of america" (this email uses bad English)
- "certified bank draft" (Beware of any scheme that involves cashing checks or money orders and then wiring a portion of the funds somewhere - you'll be liable for the entire amount if the checks or money orders turn out to be fake, even after you have received and forwarded cash. If it's a lottery prize, remember that real lotteries do not pay large prizes by check. They wire the money directly to your bank account and you do not pay for that. Many scammers promise a large check only in order to then demand payment of courier fees for a fake courier service. )
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
- 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.
Fraud email example:
From: "Stella Thomas" (may be fake)
Date: Thu, 20 Aug 2009 14:27:46 -0800
Subject: Your Certified Bank Draft
How are you today? I hope this email meets you in a perfect condition. I am using this opportunity to thank you for your great effort to our unfinished transaction and transfer of the international bank draft Check to you from the bank, am sorry for presenting and using someone else in your name to get this transaction successful. Due to logistic reasons and your inconsistence to the other best known to you. Right now, I want to inform you that I have successfully cleared the bank draft Check funds through someone else account who was capable of assisting me in this great venture that have been over and successful.
Due to your effort, sincerity, courage and trustworthiness you showed at the course of the transaction I want to compensate you and show my gratitude to you with the sum of $1,500,000 (One Million Five Hundred Thousand United State of America Dollars). I have authorized Mr. James Douglas where I deposited the money with to issue you international certified bank draft, cashable Check at your bank or any where as choice felt. My dear friend I will like you to contact Mr. James Douglas for the collection of this international certified bank draft. His name and contact address is as follows:
Mr. James Douglas
Phone Num: +23470-3533-6938
Contact Mr. James Douglas, at the moment Im very busy here in the United Kingdom because of the investment projects which myself and my new partner are having at hand in London. Finally remember that I have forwarded instructions to Mr. James Douglas on your behalf to send the bank draft Check of $1,500,000 (One Million Five Hundred Thousand United State Of America Dollars) to you as soon as you contact him without delay. Please I will like you to accept this token with good faith as this is from the bottom of my heart.
Thanks God bless you and your family. Hope to hear from you soon as soon as you've getting my compensation and please do not get angry because that is what I have for now till I finish my project.