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:
- "will come to you as a surprise" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- ",000,000" (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)
- "courier company" (Courier companies mentioned in 419 scams are always fake. They will have you send money to them, but won't deliver anything. )
- 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.
- +447024067565 (UK, redirects to a mobile phone in another country)
Fraud email example:
From: "Michael Larson" (may be fake)
Date: Tue, 4 Jan 2011 03:01:59 +0800
Subject: From: Mr. Michael Larson (Reply).
I know this will come to you as a surprise because you do not know me. I am Michael Larson, I work in HSBC Bank London, packaging and courier department.
I want you to help me clear this package that is already in the United States which I shipped through our HSBC accredited courier agent. The content of the package is $30,000,000.00 all in $100 bills but the courier company does not know that the package contains money.
All I want you to do for me now is this, fill this and get back to me, and I hope that at the end of the day you will have 30% and 70% will be for me. My identity must not be revealed to anybody.
 Full Names:
 Contact address:
 Direct Telephone No:
 Date of birth:
If this arrangement is okay by you, you can call or email me, for security reasons other modalities will be discussed as soon as you get back to me indicating that you are ready to help me, I need your full co-operation and the time it requires so we can have this concluded in less than 3 days.
Note: Communication should be strictly through my private e-mail and phone for security reasons.
If you are not willing and interested in helping me, kindly delete this message from your mailbox and pretend you never received it.
Mr. Michael Larson.