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)
- 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: "Engr. John Maloney" (may be fake)
Date: Fri, 14 Aug 2015 21:57:31 -0000
Subject: Business Proposal
Compliment of the season, I got your contact information from a reputable business/professional directory of your country which gives me assurance of your legibility as a person, I send you this brief letter to solicit your partnership to transfer the sum of (US$18.5m) to your country.
I am Engineer John Maloney, a director of Projects with the South African Ministry of Minerals and Energy Resources. I am making this contact with you based on the committee's need for an individual/ company who is willing to assist us with a solution to money transfer.
Kindly notify me by phone or e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org, your secured telephone and fax number for further details upon your acceptance of this proposal, this will enable me call and fax all details for your understanding before we commerce.
Thanking you in anticipation for your co-operation
Engr. John Maloney
Tel/Fax:+27 86 766 6177