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:
- "utmost confidentiality" (scammers urge victims to keep the transaction secret because they don't want anyone to point out to them that it is a scam)
- "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.
- 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 (AOL; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: "Mr. Chen" (may be fake)
Date: Sat, 3 Mar 2012 14:42:03 -0500
Subject: Re: I Need Your Assistance
Good day to you,
It is with good spirit of heart I opened up this great opportunity to you. My name is Ming Hung Chen, I presently work as a Senior Accounts Director, Offshore Mortgage & Services with Bank of China, Hong Kong. I Work as part of a bigger team that covers the entire Hong Kong region. I have taken pains to find your contact through personal endeavours.
On routine audit check, I discovered an investment accounts that have been dormant for the last 7yrs with monies totalling a little above (US$22 Million). Banking regulation/legislation in Hong Kong demand that I notify the fiscal authorities after a statutory time period of 7yrs when dormant accounts of this type are called in by the monitory regulatory bodies. The above fact underscores my reason of writing and making the following proposal.
Upon my investigations of the said account reveals that the investor died in 2005 the exact time the account was last operated, the said investor died as a result of 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 where they all lost their lives and no nextofkin to his estate has been found or has come forward all these years. I am of the settled conviction that using my insider leverage, working with you can secure the funds in the account for us instead of allowing it pass as an unclaimed fund into the coffer of the Chinese Government. This is especially possible as you bear the same LAST NAME to the said investor, and can stand as his extended relative. This exactly is why I crave your participation and co-operation.
I have seized all relevant documents (Legal and Banking) including access to the very account of the deceased. That will facilitate my fronting you as the claimant/sole beneficiary of the decease estate/huge capital (US$22 Million) and ultimately transfer the money to any account nominated by you.
I shall however leave out the final details of this transaction till I receive an affirmation of your desire to participate. Be assured that I am on top of the situation. There will be no risk involved whatsoever if you agree to come on board. Needless to say, UTMOST CONFIDENTIALITY is of vital important.
I guarantee that the transaction will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect all from any bridge of law. To affirm your willingness and cooperation to my proposal, please contact me through my private email: email@example.com stating the followings:
(1) Full Name:
(2) Contact Address:
Your prompt response will be highly appreciated.
Mr. Ming Hung Chen