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:
- "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)
- "very confidential" (scammers urge victims to keep the transaction secret because they don't want anyone to point out to them that it is a scam)
- "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. )
- "email@example.com" (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.
Fraud email example:
From: "Shell Petroleum Company Lottery" (may be fake)
Date: Thu, 11 Feb 2010 12:26:31 +0100
Subject: RESULT OF OUR LOTTERY DRAW (PROVIDE DETAILS.)
SHELL PETROLEUM DEVELOPMENT COMPANY,
PRIZE DISTRIBUTION HEAD QUARTERS,
JOB CODE: 3EALO
SUITE 18, SHELL COMPLEX,
NOTTINGHAM S12 K31. LONDON, UK.
REFERENCE NUMBER #: 96ATYAP0
This is to inform you that we concluded our lucky draw yesterday and your email was the email which won the third prize of GBP 1,200,000.00 Pound Sterling in Cheque. We request you to fill in the below information and forward us ASAP as we have to dispatch your HIGH VALUE WINNING CHEQUE immediately.
NOTE: The only fees you have to pay is the courier charges for the shipment of your Cheque.
Contact: Shell Petroleum Company
Mr. David Kuyt.
Tel: + 44 (0) 702-403-7561
DUE TO TECHINCAL ERROR WE WERE UNABLE TO GET YOUR INFORMATION.HENCE WE REQUEST YOU TO FILL IN THE DETAILS BELOW AGAIN AND SEND US AND WE APOLOGIZE FOR THE INCONVINEANCE CAUSED.
FAX NUMBER (IF ANY):
REFERENCE NUMBER [VERY IMPORTANT]:
CONGRATULATIONS ONCE AGAIN
We also advise that you keep your winning information very confidential as our security policy demands to avoid double claims/impersonation and unwarranted abuse of this program by some individuals.
SHELL PETROLEUM DEVELOPMENT COMPANY
JIS [JUSTIN INSER STEWARD].