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:
- "claims agent" (real lotteries do not use a "claim agent" / "fiduciary agent")
- "claims office" (real lotteries do not use a "claim agent" / "fiduciary agent")
- "million dollars" (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)
- "firstname.lastname@example.org" (this email address has been used in a known scam)
- 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 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: "E-LOT PRIZE AWARD DEPT" <email@example.com>
Date: Sun, 7 Aug 2011 10:07:49 -0500
Subject: E-ticket number: 890231AN-333
ATTENTION TO THE OWNER OF THIS EMAIL ADDRESS.
We are pleased to notify you of your Electronic Award for 2.5, million.
Details of your winning prize is as follows;
E-ticket number: 890231AN-333,
Amount: 2.5, million Dollars
You are required to establish contact with your claims agent via e-mail
with the particulars presented below:
Contact: Mr. Leon Becker
Phone: +31 61 979 8868
Foreign Claims Agent Netherlands Office.
In line with the governing rules of claim, you are requested to furnish
Mr. Becker With the following information:
1. Full name... 2. Address.... 3. Occupation... 4. Tel/Fax.... 5.
Cell/Mobile.... 6. Age... 7.. Winning Ref Number...........
NOTE: You are expected to contact the Enquiry Officer for details of claims.
N.B. Any breach of confidentiality on the part of the Winners will result to
NOTE: Do not reply this mail. You are to contact your claims officer
immediately. In order to avoid unnecessary delays and complications,please
remember to quote your reference number in every one of your correspondences.