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. )
- "inheritance funds" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "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)
- "your urgent reply" (scammers rush victims so they don't have time to think properly)
- This email message is a "dying widow" 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.
- email@example.com (AOL; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: DEBORAH HERMAN <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 22 Jul 2013 17:21:40 -0400
Subject: DEARLY BELOVED,PLEASE HELP HUMANITY]1
NAME: DEBORAH JENNIFER HERMAN
COUNTRY OF BIRTH:AUSTRALIA
GREETINGS IN THE NAME OF HUMANITY,I AM MRS DEBORAH JENNIFER HERMAN A CITIZEN OF AUSTRALIA BUT PRESENTLY IN THE MALAYSIA.I USED TO BE WORKING FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, I AM 50 YEARS OLD, I AM NOW A NEW CHRISTIAN BUT FROM ALL INDICATION,MY CONDITIONS HEALTH WISE IS REALLY DETERIORATING DUE TO A PAINFUL LONG TIME OF SUFFERING FROM CANCER OF THE LUNGS AND NOW,FROM OBVIOUS RESULTS FROM MY DOCTORS INDICATES THAT I WON"T LIVE MORE THAN 1 YEAR, ACCORDING TO MY DOCTORS, THIS IS BECAUSE THE CANCER STAGE HAS GOTTEN TO A VERY BAD STAGE OF COMATOSE.
MY LATE HUSBAND DIED LAST FIVE YEARS, AND DURING THE PERIOD OF OUR MARRIAGE WE COULDN'T PRODUCE ANY CHILD. MY LATE HUSBAND WAS VERY WEALTHY AND AFTER HIS DEATH, I INHERITED ALL HIS BUSINESS AND WEALTH.
THE DOCTORS HAS ADVISED ME THAT I MAY NOT LIVE FOR MORE THAN 1 YEAR, SO I NOW DECIDED TO DIVIDE THE PART OF THIS WEALTH, TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CHURCH IN AFRICA, AMERICA ASIA, AND EUROPE.
I SELECTED YOU AFTER VISITING THE WEBSITE AND I PRAYED OVER IT.I AM WILLING TO DONATE THE SUM OF $25,000,000USD (TWENTY FIVE MILLION UNITED STATES DOLLARS) TO THE LESS PRIVILEGED.
PLEASE I WANT YOU TO NOTE THAT THIS FUND IS LYING IN A SECURITY COMPANY IN THE MALAYSIA.ONCE I HEAR FROM YOU, I WILL FORWARD TO YOU ALL THE INFORMATION YOU WILL USE TO GET FUND RELEASED FROM THE SECURITY COMPANY AND TO BE TRANSFERRED TO YOUR ACCOUNT.
I HONESTLY PRAY THAT THIS MONEY WHEN TRANSFERRED TO YOUR ACCOUNT WILL BE USE FOR THE SAID PURPOSE, BECAUSE I HAVE COME TO FIND OUT THAT WEALTH ACQUISITION WITHOUT HUMILITY,ALL IS VANITY.
PLEASE PROVIDE ME WITH THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION SO I CAN FORWARD IT TO A CHURCH ATTORNEY WHOM MY DOCTORS RECOMMENDED SO THAT HE CAN GUIDE YOU ON CLAIM OF THE INHERITANCE FUNDS.
HE IS DILIGENT AND A CHRISTIAN SO I AM CONFIDENT HE IS GOING TO HANDLE THE TRANSACTION WITH YOU AND LEAD, ADVICE YOU ON HOW TO SECURE THE FUNDS IN YOUR FAVOR.
COMPANY AND ADDRESS:...........................
MAY THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS THE LOVE OF GOD AND THE FELLOWSHIP OF GOD BE WITH YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.
I AWAIT YOUR URGENT REPLY.(email@example.com}
YOUíRE SISTER IN CHRIST.
MRS DEBORAH JENNIFER HERMAN