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")
- "hundred thousand united states 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)
- ",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)
- "you are advice to " (this email uses bad English)
- "firstname.lastname@example.org" (this email address has been used in a known scam)
- 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.
- +31684455145 (Netherlands, prepaid mobile phone)
Fraud email example:
From: ONLINE LOTTERY PROMOTION <email@example.com>
Date: Thu, 12 Nov 2009 11:45:57 +0100
Subject: Attn: Email Bearer,
Attn: Email Bearer,
This is to formally inform and congratulate you on the result of the online cyber lotto which was conducted from an exclusive list of 1,000.000 email addresses of individual and corporate bodies selected by an advanced automated random computer ballot system from the internet.
Your e-mail address emerged as a winner in the category "A" with the following information enclosed.
You are therefore to receive a cash prize of $2,500,000.00. (Two Million Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars).
To file in for the processing of your prize winnings, you are advised to contact our Certified and Accredited claims agent for category "A" winners with the information below:
You are advice to provide him with the following information and a copy of your international passport or driver's license via email attachment or by fax for vetting process which is a standard practice just to ensure that we are dealing with the right individual.
Identification I D:
NOTE: Ensure to quote your Reference Numbers in all your communication with your claims agent. All winnings must be claimed not later than seven working days, thereafter unclaimed funds would be included in the next stake.
Mrs. Yvonne Zwanette