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)
- "cashiers check" (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 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, Hong Kong; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: Mrs Helen Johnson <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, 23 Mar 2010 04:08:38 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Mrs Helen Johnson
I contacted you some time ago in respect to the funds transfer of my deceased client worth about $12 million USD. I want to sincerely thank you for your attention and help initially although you backed out thinking that the funds transfer was illegal and a scam. Well everything was legal and legit and went well, the funds transfer was a success!!!
I am on vacation now in Kenya with my family. In a way to appreciate your kind gesture, I have instructed my bank to transfer the sum of one million two hundred thousand USD ($1,200,000.00) to you via a certified cashiers check or telegraphic transfer. This is my little way of saying thank you for your initial help.
Please send to me the following information as soon as possible at my private email address below (firstname.lastname@example.org ), so that I can forward it to my bank for the necessary modalities in the transfer of your fund.
1. Your full Name
2. Telephone/Mobile phone number:
3. Contact address
Mrs Helen Johnson