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:
- "cheque " (Beware of any scheme that involves cashing checks or money orders and then wiring a portion of the funds somewhere - you'll be liable for the entire amount if the checks or money orders turn out to be fake, even after you have received and forwarded cash. If it's a lottery prize, remember that real lotteries do not pay large prizes by check. They wire the money directly to your bank account and you do not pay for that. Many scammers promise a large check only in order to then demand payment of courier fees for a fake courier service. )
- This email message is a fake lottery scam. Consider the following facts about real lotteries:
- They don't notify winners by email.
- You can't win without first buying a lottery ticket.
- They don't randomly select email addresses to award prizes to.
- They don't use free email accounts (Yahoo, Hotmail, etc) to communicate with you.
- They don't tell you to call a mobile phone number.
- They don't tell you to keep your winnings secret.
- They will never ask a winner to pay any fees to receive a prize!
- 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: "Miriam Inaki" (may be fake)
Date: Tue, 27 Aug 2019 03:04:51 -0700
Subject: Prize Annoucement
Microsoft Iberica S.L Lottery Intl. Program
FOREIGN SERVICE SECTION BARCELONA.
BATCH NUMBER: 2016/WTN
OFFICIAL WINNING NOTIFICATION.
We are pleased to inform you of the released results of the Microsoft Iberica S.L
Sweepstakes Promotion in conjunction with foundations for the promotion of software
products organized for Software users.
This Program was held in Barcelona- Spain; Wherein your email address
emerged as one of the online Winning emails in the 1st category and
therefore attracted a cash award of EUR450,000.00 and a Mac laptop/iPhone X.
Your laptop, certificate of winnings and your cheque of (EUR450,000.00)
will be sent to your contact address in your location.
To file for claims of the release of your winnings,
Contact the Customer Service Officer with the information below:
9. BATCH NUMBER:
10. REFERENCE NUMBER:
Contact Person: Manuel Vizner [CSO]
Mrs. Miriam Inaki