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:
- "western union" (this will cost you money - be careful with upfront payments to anyone you only know through email, especially if they promise you a lot of money. NEVER send money by Western Union or MoneyGram to people you do not know personally - NO EXCEPTIONS! Instant wire transfer services are not meant to be used with strangers because they offer no protection against fraud. That is precisely why the criminals want you send money that way. )
- "money gram" (this will cost you money - be careful with upfront payments to anyone you only know through email, especially if they promise you a lot of money. NEVER send money by Western Union or MoneyGram to people you do not know personally - NO EXCEPTIONS! Instant wire transfer services are not meant to be used with strangers because they offer no protection against fraud. That is precisely why the criminals want you send money that way. )
- "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)
- "fbi washington" (This name is often mentioned in money recovery scams (re-scam): the real FBI will not tell you to contact some email address. If you are in any doubt, contact an FBI field office via www.fbi.gov. )
- "lagos" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- "cashier's check" (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 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
- Western Union money transfer is completely untraceable and therefore is *not* safe to use with anyone you do not know personally. It is the preferred method of online criminals to collect money from their victims.
- 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 (Outblaze.com, Hong Kong; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: "Agent Henry Shawn (FBI)" (may be fake)
Date: Tue, 9 Mar 2010 16:24:05 +0100
Subject: ALERT MESSAGE FROM F.B.I..... INVESTIGATION UNIT
Anti-Terrorist And Monetary Crimes Division
FBI Headquarters In Washington, D.C.
Federal Bureau Of Investigation
J. Edgar Hoover Building
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20535-0001
This is to Officially inform you that it has come to our notice and we have thoroughly completed an Investigation with the help of our Intelligence Monitoring Network System that you legally won the sum of $900,000.00 USD from a Lottery Company outside the United States of America. During our investigation we discovered that your e-mail won the money from an Online Balloting System and we have authorized this winning to be paid to you via a Certified Cashier's Check or to be transfer into your Bank account.
Normally, it will take up to 10 business days for an International Check to be cashed by your local bank. We have successfully notified this company on your behalf that funds are to be drawn from a registered bank in Nigeria so as to enable you cash the check instantly without any delay, henceforth the stated amount of $900,000.00 USD has been deposited with Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB).
We have completed this investigation and you are hereby approved to receive the winning prize as we have verified the entire transaction to be Safe and 100% risk free, due to the fact that the funds have been deposited at Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) you will be required to settle the following bills directly to the Lottery Agent in-charge of this transaction whom is located in Lagos, Nigeria. According to our discoveries, you were required to pay for the following -
(1) Deposit Fee's ( Fee's paid by the company for the deposit into an Nigeria Bank which is - Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB)
(2) Cashier's Check Conversion Fee ( Fee for converting the Wire Transfer payment into a Certified Cashier's Check )
(3) Shipping Fee's ( This is the charge for shipping the Cashier's Check to your home address and this fee includes Insurance )
The total amount for everything is $600.00 (Six Hundred-US Dollars). We have tried our possible best to indicate that this $600.00 should be deducted from your winning prize but we found out that the funds have already been deposited at Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) and cannot be accessed by anyone apart from you the winner, therefore you will be required to pay the required fee's to the Agent in-charge of this transaction via Western Union Money Transfer Or Money Gram.
In order to proceed with this transaction, you will be required to contact the agent in-charge ( MR. ALLEN BUCHALTER) via e-mail. Kindly look below to find appropriate contact information:
CONTACT AGENT NAME: MR. ALLEN BUCHALTER
E-MAIL ADDRESS: email@example.com
Telephone Number : +234-802-211-8059
You will be required to e-mail him with the following information:
DIRECT CONTACT NUMBER:
You will also be required to request Western Union Money Transfer or Money Gram details on how to send the required $600.00 in order to immediately ship your prize of $900,000.00 USD via Certified Cashier's Check drawn from Guaranty Trust Bank, (GTB) also include the following transaction code in order for him to immediately identify this transaction : EA2948-91090.
This letter will serve as proof that the Federal Bureau Of Investigation is authorizing you to pay the required $600.00 ONLY to MR. ALLEN BUCHALTER via information in which he shall send to you, if you do not receive your winning prize of $900,000.00 we shall be held responsible for the loss and this shall invite a penalty of $3,000 which will be made PAYABLE ONLY to you (The Winner).
Henry Shawn (Special Agent) FBI
Washington DC FBI.
J. Edgar Hoover Building
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20535-0001
NOTE: In order to ensure your check gets delivered to you ASAP, you are advised to immediately contact MR. ALLEN BUCHALTER via contact information provided above and make the required payment of $600.00 to information in which he shall provide to you