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 beneficiary," (this SPAM email was probably sent to thousands of people)
- 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 (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: "Margarett Hunton" (may be fake)
Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2012 18:01:57 +0100
Subject: ACT AS A MATTER OF URGENCY..(ACT FAST)!!..
This is to inform you that the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) under the U.S. Treasury Department, has declared that all transactions involving U.S. persons and non U.S persons, including payment and transfers to common carriers, incident to the blockage of funds and the person whose property and interests in property are blocked, are presently authorized, as all payments will be effected before the end of this last quarter for the year 2012. However, your file was enlisted amongst the few that have been marked for unblock after several investigations and clearances done by the OFAC. It is imperative that you provide all details of transaction correctly as detailed in your payment file before the funds will be finally released to you as the original beneficiary.
As part of its enforcement efforts, the U.S. Department the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) publishes a list of individuals and companies owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, targeted countries. It also lists individuals, groups, and entities, such as terrorists and narcotics traffickers designated under programs that are not country-specific. Collectively, such individuals and companies are called "Specially Designated Nationals" or "SDN." Their assets are blocked and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from dealing with them.
Please contact this office through : (email@example.com) for more information. And please do not contact us if you have no payment withheld by the OFAC.
Chief Operations Sec.
OFAC Liaison Office