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 sir/madam" (a standard Nigerian greeting phrase)
- "from the desk of" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "money order " (Beware of any scheme that involves cashing checks or money orders and then wiring a portion of the funds somewhere - you'll be liable for the entire amount if the checks or money orders turn out to be fake, even after you have received and forwarded cash. If it's a lottery prize, remember that real lotteries do not pay large prizes by check. They wire the money directly to your bank account and you do not pay for that. Many scammers promise a large check only in order to then demand payment of courier fees for a fake courier service. )
- "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.
- 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.
Fraud email example:
From: "Head Foreign Operations" (may be fake)
Date: Sat, 23 Oct 2010 00:29:52 +0100
Subject: STILL WAITING FOR YOUR CALL
>From The Desk of Foreign Operations,
Her Majesty Revenue and Customs Unit
United Nation,In Conjunction with Unclaimed Property Division USA And European Union.
53 Parliament Street, colton south brook FX37 6ck,United Kingdom.
NOTICE OF UNCLAIMED FUNDS
How are you today? Hope all is well with you and family? You may not understand why this email came to you. We have been having a meeting for the passed 7
months which ended 2 days ago with the then secretary to the UNITED NATIONS.
Our records indicates that you appear to be the owner of an unclaimed fund worth $2.5Million. We observed that konw transaction or other activities to get
these fund to your possession has been noted for a significant period of time,and this fund was noted to be either Inheritance Fund from a Deceased One,
Lottery Unclaimed Fund, Uncompleted Transferred Funds, Fund Left after a Disaster, Overpayment Funds, Government May Owe You Funds, Swine Flu, Government
Stop Order, Money Order or by sudden Change of Address where the said account was opened or directed.
Henceforth, if you are still interested in getting these fund transferred to you and wish to prevent the fund from being reported to the HM Revenue &
Customs Treasurer as "unclaimed" as required by the American, Asia and United Kingdom Unclaimed Property Act. Please acknowledge the receipt of this message
by forwarding the below information's:
Sex & Age:
CONTACT THE APPOINTED CO-ORDINATOR WITH YOUR DETAILS IN SPAIN;
COMPENSATION AWARD HOUSE.
Name: Dr PEPE DE CALO
IF A RESPONSE IS NOT RECEIVED FROM YOU WITHIN THIRTY (5) DAYS OF THIS NOTICE FROM DATE, THE FUNDS AND / OR PROPERTY WILL BE DECLARED "FORFEITED" AND
TRANSFERRED TO THE HM REVENUE & CUSTOMS COFFERS, WHERE ALL UNCLAIMED FUNDS/PROPERTIES ARE KEPT.
Mr. BLOCKMANS IRWIN,
Head Foreign Operations,
Her Majesty Revenue and Customs Unit.