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:
- "a security company " (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. )
- "trunk box" (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)
- "trunk boxes" (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)
- "million united states 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)
- ",000,000" (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)
- "await your urgent response" (scammers rush victims so they don't have time to think properly)
- "top secret" (scammers urge victims to keep the transaction secret because they don't want anyone to point out to them that it is a scam)
- "there is no risk involved" (almost true for the criminal trying to scam you - arrests of online criminals are rare)
- "liberia" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
Fraud email example:
From: "Mr. Terry Donald" <email@example.com>
Date: Thu, 24 May 2012 15:13:27 -0600
Subject: Re. OUR BUSINESS TRANSACTION
Re. Our BUSINESS TRANSACTION!!
Minerva House Third Floor
London, SE1 9DH
This letter might also come to you as a surprise but it is coming with
the best of intentions and will be of mutual benefit to all the
parties involved. I am Terry Donald the chief security officer to the
former LIBERIAN PRESIDENT CHARLES TAYLOR here after referred to as my
client I am writing to solicit your assistance to secure funds that
are already in the states now! with a security company. The fund in
question is a total of $5,000,000 (Five Million United States Dollars)
in $100 bills and stashed in Two trunk boxes and was shipped out of
Liberia through a diplomatic means by a security company and they are
not aware of the real content of the boxes for security reasons.
The boxes are already in The states (USA) and under the custody of a
security company.I am looking For your assistance in getting the boxes
out from the security company and securing the funds, we will give you
the total fund.
NOTE: There is no risk involved in this project because I am involved
as my Client confidant. Please you should keep this transaction a top
secret as we are prepared to do more business with you pending your
approach towards this project.
I await your urgent response.
Mr. Terry Donald
URGENT REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE