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.
Click here to report a problem with this page.
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:
- "from: the desk of" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "claims agent" (real lotteries do not use a "claim agent" / "fiduciary agent")
- ",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)
- "00,000.00" (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)
- This email message is a fake lottery scam. Consider the following facts about real lotteries:
- They don't notify winners by email.
- You can't win without first buying a lottery ticket.
- They don't randomly select email addresses to award prizes to.
- They don't use free email accounts (Yahoo, Hotmail, etc) to communicate with you.
- They don't tell you to call a mobile phone number.
- They don't tell you to keep your winnings secret.
- They will never ask a winner to pay any fees to receive a prize!
- 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 (Yahoo, Japan; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: "UNITED BANK FOR AFRICA" (may be fake)
Date: Sat, 28 Jul 2012 03:57:06 -0700
Subject: FROM: THE DESK OF THE DIRECTOR
FROM: THE DESK OF THE DIRECTOR
INTERNATIONAL PROMOTIONS/PRIZE AWARD DEPARTMENT.
HEADQUARTERS: 1A BEXON COURT CARLTON NOTTINGHAM SHIRE NOTTINGHAM
NG4 1SQ ESSEX UNITED KINGDOM.
REF NUMBER: OSL/653/1029/03
BATCH NUMBER: AT-040-SB06-03
Graceland Finance /Southern Sun Lottery of British International Lottery
Program wishes to inform your email account emerged as one of the winners
of our recent lottery draws. Your email account was therefore selected as
a winner of One Million Five Hundred and Thousand British Pounds Sterling
This result is now made available to you and your email address attached
to ticket number 27522465896-532 with serial number 652-662 drew lucky
number 7-14-18-23-31-45, which consequently won you the 2nd category.
Participants were selected through a computerized ballot system drawn from
company and individual email addresses users.
We advice that you keep your winning information confidential until your
claims has been processed and your money released to you. This is part of
our security protocol to avoid double claiming and unwarranted abuse of
this program. For the release of your winnings, kindly contact your
claims agent with the
following details to expedite the processing of your prize winning.
1. Full name and address
2. Country of Residence
3. Tel, Cell phone and fax number
4. Occupation and Age
To begin your claim, please contact our Claim Manager at United Bank For
Africa immediately with the following address below. All winning must be
claimed not later than two weeks from the date of receipt of this email.
After this date all prize-winning will be treated as Unclaimed.
Mr. LOUIS ALU
Overseas Subscribers Agent
Email Lottery Promotion Regional Office
62AIslip Road Kent
London OX2 7SP
Note in order to avoid unnecessary delays; remember to quote your
Reference and Batch numbers in all correspondence.
Congratulations for emerging the lucky winner from all our staff.
Mrs. Mercy Wilkinson
Information and Promotion