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:
- ",500,000" (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)
- "00,000.00" (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)
- "fund beneficiary" (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)
- "power of attorney" (with your bank details and a power of attorney form criminals sometimes empty bank accounts)
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
- Barristers (lawyers) mentioned in 419 scams are always fake.
- 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.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (163; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: "Mr. Aaron Michaels" (may be fake)
Date: Mon, 11 Apr 2016 14.29.48 +0200
Subject: URGENT NOTIFICATION OF YOUR FUNDS
OFFICE OF MR. AARON MICHAELS (ESQ)
COUNTER TERRORISM AND CYBER CRIME DIV. JHB SA
FUNDS REIMBURSEMENT/COMPENSATION COMMITTEE
Tel: +27847980604/ Fax: +27865366823
URGENT NOTIFICATION OF YOUR FUNDS
This is to notify you that your overdue funds have been approved for payment to you. Your fund which is $4,500,000.00 has been approved for payment via Electronic Funds Transfer through the assigned paying bank called Western Trust Bank.
Please be informed that several attempts to contact you were unsuccessful and this is the last email to you in respect to the claims process. Meanwhile, a power of attorney was received from one Thomas Cabico from USA issued by you authorizing that the fund beneficiary be changed to his name. Hence we are seeking for your confirmation to this end ASAP; kindly reconfirm this informations below.
NOTE: You are advised to respond to this email within the next 7 working days to avoid any changes that might not be beneficial to your payment file.
Mr. Aaron Michaels