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:
- "utmost confidentiality" (scammers urge victims to keep the transaction secret because they don't want anyone to point out to them that it is a scam)
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
- This email lists mobile phone numbers. Use of such numbers is typical for scams because they allow criminals to conceal their true location. They can receive calls in an Internet cafe from where they send you emails, while pretending to be in some office.
- +447035913989 (UK, redirects to a mobile phone in another country)
- 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 (Gmail/GoogleMail; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: "Barr. Smithson K. James" (may be fake)
Date: Sat, 23 Oct 2010 05:59:24 +0100
Subject: How are you and your family?
How are you today? i hope all is well. I know this would come to you as a surprise but i know you will handle this deal confidentially for our mutual benefit. I have got this to handle yrs back after the death of my client but i have not seen someone to trust. It is an issue that needs a very serious attention and utmost confidentiality.
An inheritance fund worth of US$30Million prepared as a testament/WILL by me as an executor on behalf of my client who worked in an oil company. He entrusted the WILL to me as his personal lawyer for his only son to inherit when he dies. But as I speak to you now the only son is a lunatic due to some hard drugs taken by him. Everything has been done for many years now to bring him back to normal to no avail. I know that we can strike the deal for our benefit by presenting you as the trustee or beneficiary of the WILL on behalf of the boy as his only survival relation to enable the fund release on your name to your account for our mutual benefit.
It is very legal for us to get this done as a professional in this field. I would love to discuss it in details with you as soon as i get your response to this mail.
Hope to hear from you sooner than later. Do reply to this my secured email address: email@example.com
Mr. Smithson K. J. Esq.
315 Lewisham High Street London
SE13 6NL UK