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:
- An email address listed inside this email has been used in a known fraud before.
- 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")
- ",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)
- "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. )
- 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 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 (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
- claims agent name: mr. steven white email: email@example.com alternative email: firstname.lastname@example.org you are to (Yahoo; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: Greek / British Lottery=?iso-8859-1?Q?=AE?=
<email@example.com> (may be fake)
Date: Fri, 12 Feb 2010 01:10:27 +0200 (EET)
Subject: ATTN: ATTORNEY
1, Menekratous Str. Athens, Greece.
London Office: British International Lottery.
5th Floor East Common Wealth Center London.
Ref No: GR/BLIP09788/BL
Batch No: 470690902/BL
Dear Lucky Winner,
This is to inform you that your email address was selected for a cash
prize of 1,500,000.00 Great British Pounds) held on the 11th February 2010
in UK Lottery Email Draw in conjunction with Greek Lottery Programme.
Claims Agent Name: Mr. Steven White
Alternative Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
YOU ARE TO INDICATE FROM THE OPTION BELOW SUITABLE FOR YOU IN RELEASING
1. BANK TRANSFER.
2. DELIVERY BY CERTIFIED CHEQUE
Your prize will be released to you from our office.
Provide the information below:
1.NAMES: 2.ADDRESS: 3.SEX/AGE:
4.:COUNTRY: 5.OCCUPATION: 6.TELEPHONE NO:
MR. PAUL GRAHAM. CONTACT TEL +30 699 741 4237
Greek / British Lottery Co-ordinator Online Programme.