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)
- "fiduciary 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)
- "courier company" (Courier companies mentioned in 419 scams are always fake. They will have you send money to them, but won't deliver anything. )
- "cheque " (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. )
- "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 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.
- +447045726742 (UK, redirects to a mobile phone in another country)
- 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.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Yahoo, Japan; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: "Mr. Brian Smith." (may be fake)
Date: Wed, 3 Feb 2010 11:21:14 -0500
Subject: Re: Your Compensation of $500,000 USD. Contact Him
My Dear Friend.
Due to your effort, sincerity, courage and trust worthiness you showed at the course of the United kingdom Online Lotto winning cheque shipment to your location, I want to compensate you and show my gratitude to you with
the sum of $500,000USD (Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars) I have authorized the finance house where I deposited the money to issue you
international certified bank draft cashable at your bank.
My dear winner, I will like you to contact the CEO in charge of the finance house for the collection of this international Certified bank draft. He is based in the United Kingdom and he has his agent in West
Africa. The name of the Person with your Cheque is
MR. MARK LEE
COMPENSATION AND FINANCE HOUSE HEAD OFFICE UK
CONTACT AGENT: Mr. MARK LEE
PHONE : +44- 70457-26742
To avoid unnecessary delays and complications, please quote your
3. Phone Number:
At the moment, I am very busy in Sydney because of the investment projects which myself and my new partner Mr. Hillton of CTL Express Courier
Company, are having at hand.
Finally, remember that I have forwarded instruction to MR. MARK LEE at the finance house on your behalf to send the bank draft 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 and God bless you and your family.
Hope to hear from you soon.
My sincere advice to you as a Christian is that you should endeavor to pay your tithe to a bible believing church when you get the money because I noticed it as a fiduciary agent that you were skeptical about your
winnings when you were been ask by the UK lotto Agency Inc to file out a claim for your prize. And now the current policy of the Lotto organizers
is that if an emerged winner fails to claim up his/her winning cheque, it's now mandatory that this fund can be remitted or forfeited to the
fiduciary agent in charge of this winners file.
However, I want you to contact him immediately as soon as you receive this information because he is leaving for CYPRUS by the end of next month and this might cost a delay for you to receive this draft.
Mr Brian Smith.