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 friend" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "million us 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)
- "cotonou" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- 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: Madam Mei Changpu <email@example.com>
Date: Thu, 5 Dec 2013 13:58:56 +0100
Subject: CAN I TRUST YOU?
I am Mrs Mei Changpu and i have been suffering from ovarian cancer disease
and the doctor says that i have just two days to leave.I am from (Lhasa)
China but based in Africa Cotonou, Benin Republique,since eight years ago
as business woman dealing with gold exportation.Now that i am about to end
the race like this,without any family members and no child.I have 3 Million
US DOLLARS in Africa Development Bank (ADB) Cotonou, Benin Republique.
which i instructed the bank to give St Andrews Missionary Home in Benin
Republique. But my mind is not at rest because i am writing this letter now
through the help of my computer beside my sick bed.
I also have 4.5 Million US Dollars at Ecobank here in Benin Republique.
and i instructed the bank to transfer the money to the first foreigner that
will apply to the bank after i have gone that they should release the fund
to him/her,but you will assure me that you will take 50% of the money and
give 50% to the orphanages home in your country for my heart to rest.You
are to contact the bank through this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yours fairly friend,
Madam Mei Changpu