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:
- ",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)
- "% commission" (Beware of any scheme that involves depositing checks or money orders or receiving wire transfers in your bank account and then wiring a portion of the funds somewhere, for a percentage of 5-15% of the total. Such offers are *always* fraudulent and you will be liable for the entire amount when the checks, money orders or wire transfers turn out to be fraudulent. Any money already forwarded comes out of *your* pocket then. )
- "foreign exchange" (Banks mentioned in 419 scams are always fake (real banks don't communicate using mobile phones or free webmail addresses))
- 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 (Outblaze.com, Hong Kong; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: Foreign Operations Dept <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Reply-To: Foreign Operations Dept <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 29 Sep 2010 11:02:57 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: BANK TRANSFER INFORMATION
Foreign Exchange & Int'l Remittance Dept.,
Republic of South Africa
Contract File Ref: BID/APM/JHB/0585368/-43658/2010
Total No: Pages = cover +01
Attn: The Manager / Director Ceo;
SUB: US$37,500,000.00 TRANSFER PAYMENT ORDER:
Good day! I am sending you this message in confidenceby your Email to
facilitate a contract Payment Order sum of US$37.5Million from our Bank, by
signing you as the Company's Associate partnerand then expedite the fund
transfer with you. On your acceptance for my transferring this fund with you, I
have resolved to offer you 25% Commission of the funds, I will then send you
the full portfolio for transferring the fund with you without further delays.
Kindly reply urgently to enable me facilitate the transfer with you
MR. WILLIAMS SMITH
(Foreign Remittance Dept. Manager)