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:
- "claims agent" (real lotteries do not use a "claim agent" / "fiduciary agent")
- "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)
- 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.
- email@example.com (Gmail/GoogleMail; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: SHELL <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2010 02:07:54 +0800
Subject: SHELL PETROLEUM DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
SHELL PETROLEUM LTD
Shell Centre, London
SE1 7NA England
Greetings, From Shell Petroleum
You have just been awarded the sum of $3.5 Million United States Dollars Only which was won by your E-MAIL Address in our Shell Petroleum Lottery Promotions, Shell Petroleum Lottery Promotions is
part of our social responsibility in line with our company act as stated in the company act law. To begin your claim please contact our licensed and accredited agent assigned to you.
INTERNATIONAL VERIFICATION DEPARTMENT MANAGER
Name: Mr. Kenneth Albert
Email : email@example.com
Do email the above Claims Administrator, with the claims requirements below. To avoid unnecessary delay. They are needed to proceed.
Date of Birth:
PAYMENT OF PRIZE AND CLAIM
You are to contact your Claims Agent with immediate effect to facilitate the protocol of your winning prize before the date of Claim, Winners Shall be paid in accordance with his/her Settlement
Prize must be claimed not later than 15 days from date of Draw Notification after the Draw date in which Prize has won. Any prize not claimed within this period will be forfeited.
Ms.Louie Morris (Secretary)