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:
- ",500,000" (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)
- "dormant account" (Banks mentioned in 419 scams are always fake (real banks don't communicate using mobile phones or free webmail addresses))
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
Fraud email example:
From: "John Woo" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, 20 Aug 2011 08:13:46 +1100 (VLAST)
Office of the manager auditing and accounting
Bank of China(BOC)
Good day. I am Mr John Woo, Executive Manager of Bank of China. I am aware
of a dormant account in my department that belongs to one of our Indian
client that shares the same last name as yours and died as a result of a
heart-related condition on March 12th 2005. His heart condition was due to
the death of all the members of his
family in the tsunami disaster on the 26th December 2004 in Sumatra
Indonesia. And in the record there is no known successor to this deposit
of the deceased who died without a will.
I can be reached on my private email ( email@example.com ) for more
information. The former customer has a deposit of about Seventeen Million
Five hundred Thousand Dollars(US$ 17,500,000:00 ) left behind in the
dormant account waiting to be claimed. If you are honest, I can present
you to the Bank of China as the next of kin and we will
have an agreement before we proceed.
Mr John Woo