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:
- 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:
- "dear sir/madam" (a standard Nigerian greeting phrase)
- "confidential business" (scammers urge victims to keep the transaction secret because they don't want anyone to point out to them that it is a scam)
- "chambers" (Barristers (lawyers) mentioned in 419 scams are always fake.)
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
- 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.
- email@example.com (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: "Mr Mboweni Michael" (may be fake)
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2012 18:30:07 -0000
Subject: Confidential Business Proposal
Cape Town25 Burg Street
Cape Town, 8001
Tel: (+27 72 427 4321)
FAX: (+27 86 768 9529)
Confidential Business Proposal
I am Mr. Michael Mboweni an accountant with the South African Reserve Bank, based on the information gathered from the South African Chambers Of Commerce and Industry, I have the privilege to request for your assistance to transfer the sum of $47,250,000.00 (forty seven million, Two hundred and Fifty thousand United States dollars) into your oversea foreign bank accounts. The above sum resulted from an over-invoiced contract, executed commissioned and paid for about five years (5) ago by an American foreign contractor with the South African Ministry of Mines and Energy. The fund has been in a suspense account at The South African Reserve Bank. The Original contractors were paid their due contract amount after due execution of the contract in question. The original contract amount was inflated and over invoiced to the tune of the money we want you to assist us move to your account.
We are now ready to transfer the fund overseas and that is where you come in. It is important to inform you that as civil servants, we are forbidden to operate a foreign account; that is why we require your assistance. The total sum will be shared as follows: 70% for us, 25% for you and 5% for local and international expenses incident to the transfer. Because of my position as a government official we are not allowed by law to operate overseas bank accounts. What we require from you as soon as you indicate willingness to assist us and be our partner in this very profitable transaction. You will provide a bank account where this money will be transferred into after you must have signed the release papers which we will send to you as the original beneficiary of this fund. The transfer is risk free on both sides. I am an accountant with the South African Reserve Bank. If you find this proposal acceptable, we shall require the following documents:
(a) Your banker's name, telephone, account and fax numbers.
(b) Your private telephone and fax numbers -- for confidentiality and easy communication.
(c) A copy of your identification as means of identification.
The business will take us 7 to 8 working days to accomplish. You have my word which is my bond that this process would be executed under a legitimate arrangement that would legally protect you from any Breech of Law Please reply urgently. All information provided will be use only for the sake of this transaction. Please feel free to call me at anytime. AND Make sure that you reply me only through my private Email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
TEL: (+27 72 427 4321)