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:
- "western union" (this will cost you money - be careful with upfront payments to anyone you only know through email, especially if they promise you a lot of money. NEVER send money by Western Union or MoneyGram to people you do not know personally - NO EXCEPTIONS! Instant wire transfer services are not meant to be used with strangers because they offer no protection against fraud. That is precisely why the criminals want you send money that way. )
- "claim agent" (real lotteries do not use a "claim agent" / "fiduciary agent")
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
- Western Union money transfer is completely untraceable and therefore is *not* safe to use with anyone you do not know personally. It is the preferred method of online criminals to collect money from their victims.
- 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.
- 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 (Pisem; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: "Ministry of Foreign Affairs (RSA)" (may be fake)
Date: Wed, 7 Mar 2012 19:05:41 +0100
Subject: Re : In Response To Your Email , 29/01/2012 .
ATTN: Sir / Madam ,
After receiving several reports from the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) that you have been scammed by fraudsters from Africa especially from Nigeria; we have decided to contact you and Just in case you don't know the (IC3), the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) to serve as a means to receive Internet related criminal complaints and to further research, develop, and refer the criminal complaints to federal, state, local, or international law enforcement and regulatory agencies for any investigation they deem to be appropriate. Their website is http://www.ic3.gov
In response to the report, we have concluded our investigation and we have agreed to reimburse you with the sum of Two Hundred and fifty thousand United states dollar only (US$250,000) via Western Union Money Transfer agent location office in Cape Town,South Africa,which we have made necessary and sufficient arrangements for you to be compensated.
Send the details below to the Western Union agent office via their email address stated below and they shall endeavor to transfer your fund within 48 hours of your response.
Government Accredited Licensed Claim Agent.
Western Union Information and Payment Bureau.
Email : email@example.com
Tele/FAX : +27727529100
Please do not respond to emails which asks you to send your username and password for any reason as these are means of hacking into your email account to steal from you.
And also take note that we have never held any scam victims compensation program in the AU region. This is the First-Of-Its-Kind so Do not be deceived!
Mrs. Linda Makhado (Public Relations Officer)
Oversea Communication Department
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (RSA), South Africa.