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:
- "dear sir/madam" (a standard Nigerian greeting phrase)
- "million british 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)
- "commission of 10%" (Beware of any scheme that involves depositing checks or money orders or receiving wire transfers in your bank account and then wiring a portion of the funds somewhere, for a percentage of 5-15% of the total. Such offers are *always* fraudulent and you will be liable for the entire amount when the checks, money orders or wire transfers turn out to be fraudulent. Any money already forwarded comes out of *your* pocket then. )
- 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.
- email@example.com (Gmail/GoogleMail; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
Date: Thu, 8 Oct 2015 17:43:18 +0300
Subject: READ AND GET BACK TO ME
From: Mr. John Paynter
Head of Investments,
Standard Life International
Re: Investment with S. L. International.
It is a fact that we have not meet before neither have we had any previous business dealings, but I strongly believe that with understanding and trust we can have a successful business relationship. I am Mr. John Paynter, a principal staff with Standard Life International, Standard Life International is a business consulting firm, offering business advisory services worldwide. We are not a very big company but we have recently been confronted with the task of investing funds exceeding our capacity and have decided to seek partners to cooperate with us in investing the available funds because we have never done business of this nature.
I have access to very vital information that can be used to transfer funds out of the project account to a secured account outside United Kingdom, I have the required machinery to get it done since I am still in active service, if it was possible for me to do it alone I would not have bothered soliciting for foreign support.
We are brokering an investment venture on behalf of a client of our firm. This venture will involve the investment of Twenty Five Million British Pounds. We are by this letter considering entering into a partnership with you so as to allow us invest the available funds in your country and to appoint you as representatives and co-managers of the investment funds. We are ready to give you a commission of 10% of the available capital as soon as the proposed partnership between us is started.
I wait your letter of intent to partner with me and kindly reply this Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. John Paynter
Standard Life International