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)
- "firstname.lastname@example.org" (This email address looks like addresses used in fake loan scams. Be suspicious of any lender who uses a free webmail address or who is based in different country from yourself.)
- "email@example.com" (this email address has been used in a known scam)
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
Fraud email example:
From: "Dr. Mensah Owusu" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 20 Apr 2010 22:41:29 +0800
Subject: From Dr. Mensah
I want you to patiently read this offer. I am Dr. Mensah Owusu, the Head of
Delegation to the World Bank in West Africa. I am the linkman between the
Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries - OPEC and the petroleum
sector in a West African country. I also attend OPEC meetings constantly in
Geneva. Through the sale of our allocated oil quota in OPEC, I was able to
make S$125.million.(ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FIVE MILLION UNITED STATES
DOLLARS)I want you to assist me to claim this money as i cannot claim it
directly because I am still a civil servant, and the code of conduct bureau
forbids me to acquire such amount of money.
It is on this basis that I am contacting you for assistance, if you will be
interested, claim documents will been processed and sent to you. The
documents with which the fund is deposited will be changed to reflect you as
the new beneficiary so that you will be eligible to collect the fund on my
behalf. You shall be entitled to 30% of the total funds while the rest will
be given to me on arrival in your country.
I am aware of the international monitoring of all large-scale financial
movements after the September 11th 2001 terrorist attack on America and to
avoid any state of financial investigation I will provide a classified
clearance paper from the relevant body which will exonerate the money from
either drug, money laundered or terrorist related proceeds. I will not fail
to bring to your notice that this business is risk free and doesn't have any
negative implication. You should not entertain any fear as all modalities for
the smooth and easy transfer of this fund have been finalized.
If you can conveniently assure me of your ability to keep this business very
secret and confidential, you can write back to me giving me your telephone/
fax numbers for easier communication. Expecting your response at my personal
Dr. Mensah Owusu