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)
- "million 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)
- ",000,000" (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)
- "cotonou" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- 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.
- email@example.com (Gmail/GoogleMail; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: "Gabriel Sossou" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 20 Apr 2010 17:16:59 +0800 (HKT)
Subject: Can i trust you?
I am a credit officer of a trust and financial company here in Cotonou
Benin Republic. I believe you will not betrayed me with the trust I intend
putting on you.
A foreigner, Engr.MAHMUD ALI IBRAHIM (snr) an iron steel company chairman
with the Federal Government here in Benin Republic until his death some
years ago in an Auto crash deposited with us US$14,000,000(Fourteen
million United States Dollars).
The company now expects a next of kin as beneficiary of this money since
the depositor is dead. Valuable efforts has been made by our company to
get in touch with any of Mahmud Ali's relatives but to no avail.
Because of the inability to locate any of his next of kin, the management
under the influence of our chairman and members of the board of directors,
have made arrangements for the fund to be declared unclaimed and
subsequently be used to import ammunitions into our country.
However, In order to avert this negative development, some of my trusted
colleagues and myself now seek your permission to declare you as his next
of kin so that this fund will be released and transferred into your
account as the next of kin. This deal is risk free because all documents
and proofs to enable you get this fund has been carefully worked out.
We would furnish you with the necessary disbursement ratio to suite both
parties on your reply to this mail, do not hesitate to contact me through
my private e-mail : email@example.com
Looking forward to your urgent response.