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:
- "might come to you as a surprise" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- 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 fernadis" (may be fake)
Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2013 11:16:16 +0200
Subject: Reply Needed
It gives me a great deal of pleasure to write you this mail even when it might come to you as a surprise. I hope you find it of interest.
My name is Peter Fernadis. I am an Auditor with a Bank here in South Africa. I would like to use this means to ask your assistance in moving some funds over to your country.
I have in the course of my duties come in contact with some funds that have been inactive for some years now and careful investigation proved the original depositor of the funds died more than six years ago
All attempts to reach the suppose beneficiary of the deposit were fruitless and before it is forfeited to the state, I will like to move it outside now and this is where I need your assistance.
According to laws of South Africa, all unattended deposit beyond seven years will be forfeited to the state, hence my contacting you.
I look forward to hearing from you and my gratitude for your patience.
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