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.
Click here to report a problem with this page.
Some comments by the Scam-O-Matic about the following email:
- An email address listed inside this email has been used in a known fraud before.
- 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")
- "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)
- 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.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: "Mr James Fredrick" (may be fake)
Date: Fri, 5 Aug 2011 18:05:38 -0500
Subject: Attention Instant Winner
INSTANT MILLIONAIRES LOTTERY AWARDS
67 Broomhill Drive
London, United Kingdom
Attention Instant Winner,
We are pleased to inform you of the announcement today the 5th of AUGUST 2011,
of winners of the INSTANT MILLIONAIRES LOTTERY PROMO as part of the New Year
Your e-mail id was selected through the computer ballot system a winner of
INSTANT MILLIONAIRES August online lottery program.
You have therefore been approved for a lump sum pay of ?500,000.00 Great Britain
You have to contact your claims agent for your payment process.
Claims Agent: Owen Smith
Forward to him your claim details below;
REF. NUMBER: 2009/897/0984
BATCH NO: MFD/3099/OSG
LUCKY NO: 1 8 13 22 27 38 41
SECURITY CODE: 676
Amount Won: ?500,000 (Five Hundred Thousand British Pounds).
You have to contact him not later than three working days.
Once more congratulations.
Mr James Fredrick