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:
- "million pounds" (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)
- "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)
- "very confidential" (scammers urge victims to keep the transaction secret because they don't want anyone to point out to them that it is a scam)
- "dormant account" (Banks mentioned in 419 scams are always fake (real banks don't communicate using mobile phones or free webmail addresses))
- This email message is a next of kin scam.
- 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: "Mrs. Rebecca Evans" (may be fake)
Date: Sat, 18 May 2013 16:19:54 -0700
Subject: Reply Immediately
I am Mrs. Rebecca Evans, the General auditor and head of computing department of our bank. I have urgent and very confidential business proposition for you. I understand that through Internet is not the best way to link up with you because of the confidentiality which the transaction demands.
I discovered a dormant account in my office, as the general auditor with here in our bank. The account has been dormant and has not been operated for the past seven (7) years. From my investigations and confirmations, the owner of this account, a foreigner by name Mr. Michael B. Thompson, he died in July, 2004 and since then nobody has done anything as regards to claiming of this money because he has no family members who are aware of the existence of neither the account nor the funds. It will be in my interest to transfer this fund worth 10,000,000 million pounds in an account offshore.
This transaction is totally free of risk and as the fund is legitimate and does not originate from drug, money laundry, terrorism or any other illegal act. If you can be a collaborator to this please indicate interest immediately for us to proceed. Your contact phone numbers and full name will be necessary for this effect. On receipt of your response I will furnish you with detailed clarification as it relates to this mutual benefit transaction.
Regards and respect,
Mrs. Rebecca Evans