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:
- "certified bank draft" (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. )
- "remain blessed" (scammers in West Africa like to use religious phrases)
- 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: "Dr. Togo Udo" (may be fake)
Date: Sun, 30 Aug 2020 05:02:03 -0700
Subject: Contact John Harrison, for your compensation fund ($5.5Million)!!!
I am glad to inform you and your family that I have successfully concluded the transaction which i seek for your family help before. Now the funds has been transferred to Hong Kong through the assistant of Mr. Lu Lee, who is a business man in Hong Kong.
Currently I am in Hong Kong with my family. However, I did not forget your family because they are the source of my success, they made me what I am now though they are not there to complete this project with me. I know it is not their fault to back off on me and the transaction. I understand it was simple because of some circumstances they could not control or understand. In appreciate of their assistance I have mapped out a compensation fund and wrote on their favor to you a certified bank draft worth of ($5.5Million) I left it with international shipping department agent on my departure to Hong Kong. I would like you to contact John Harrison with below information and instruct him where to send it to you.
Agent John Harrison / Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / Phone: +229 66 22 67 93
As soon as you receive the certified bank draft you should let me know because I am busy here trying to put things together and may not be chance to email you frequently. Feel free to contact John Harrison. I will stop here. Once again, Thank your family and you very much and remain blessed.
Dr. Togo Udo