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.
Click here to report a problem with this page.
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:
- "atm payment department" (this phrase is often used in the ATM card payment scam)
- "moneygram" (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. )
- "you are required to pay " (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. )
- "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)
- "cotonou" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
- MoneyGram money transfer is completely untraceable and therefore is *not* safe to use with anyone you do not know personally. Along with Western Union it is a preferred method of online criminals to collect money from their victims.
Fraud email example:
From: MONEYGRAM OFFICE BENIN REPUBLI <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, 13 Mar 2010 08:33:58 -0800 (PST)
Subject: FORIGN OPERATION MANAGER MONEYGRAM OFFICE BENIN REPUBLIC.
MARGIN-TOP: 5px; MARGIN-BOTTOM: 5px
MARGIN-TOP: 5px; MARGIN-BOTTOM: 5px
FORIGN OPERATION MANAGER MONEY
LOCATION. RUE BPH141 KINGSTON
AVENUE COTONOU BENIN.
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU DEAR FUND BENEFICIARY AM EMAILING
YOU SEQUAL TO YOUR E-MAIL,I WANT YOU TO UNDERSTAND THAT WE ARE NOT TRYING TO
OFFEND YOU IN ANYWHERE BUT ONLY TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU FOLLOW THE NORMAL
PROCESS IN GETTING YOUR INHERITANCE PAYMENT THROUGH OUR OFFICE AS YOU MUST KNOW
THAT THIS IS A MONEYGRAM AGENTS AND ALSO A GOVERNMENT INC.COMPANY. YOUR TOTAL
SUM OF $900.000.00 USD WAS DEPOSITED IN OUR CUSTODY BY YOUR PARTNER TO BE PAID
TO YOU THROUGH ATM CARD BUT WE CAN NO LONGER COMPLETE THE PAYMENT THROUGH ATM
CARD DUE TO THE PROBLEM OUR ATM PAYMENT DEPARTMENT IS HAVING WITH IMF SO YOUR
PAYMENT WAS MOVED TO OUR CUSTODY FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE TO YOU VIA
ARE REQUIRED TO PAY THE SUM OF 172 USD BEFORE
THIS MONEYGRAN OPERATING BRANCH CAN RECONFIRM YOUR PAYMENT FILE AND IT WILL
SERVE AS THE COST OF SIGNING YOUR PAYMENT FILE TO ENABLE US BE ABLE TO SEND YOUR
INHERITANCE PAYMENT OF 8,000 USD DAILY AS PLANED WITH YOUR PARTNER,YOU ARE
HEREBY INSTRUCT TO GET BACK TO THIS NOBLE OFFICE WITH THE REQUIRED FEE.I AM
TRUST WORTHY TO NOTIFY YOU THAT YOUR FIRST PAYMENT MUST DEFINATELY GET TO YOUR
HANDS AS SOON YOU SEND THE (USD$172)
YOU ARE TO
ANSWER THIS LITTLE TEXT TO CONFIRM THAT WE ARE HANDLING YOUR INHERITANCE PAYMENT
ACCORDLY TO THE RIGHT DIRECTION.PLEASE YOU ARE EXPECTING TO REPLY BACK TO
THIS MONEYGRAM OFFICE SO THAT
WE PROCEED AHEAD AND COMMERCE YOUR PAYMENT ONCE YOU RECONFIRM YOUR PERSONAL FILE
AS LISTED BELOW AND SEND THE REQUESTED FEE OF $172USD
USD TODAY WITH THE INSTRUCTION BELOW.
THE INFORMATION BELOW TO SEND THE MANDATORY REQUIRE FEE TOTAL SUM OF
MONEYGRAM TO ENABLE US PICK IT FROM OUR DEPARTMENT HERE AND RECONFIRM YOUR
PAYMENT FILE APPROVAL FROM THE FEDERAL MINISTRY OF
FINANCE AND COMMERCE YOUR DAILY PAYMENT OF $8,000.
AS SOON AS YOU RECEIVED THIS EMAIL KINDLY COMPLY WITH
THIS INSTRUCTIONS AND BE REST ASSURE THAT YOUR PAYMENT WILL COMMERCE IMMEDIATELY
BY THIS OFFICE ONCE WE CONCLUDE RECONFIRMING YOUR PAYMENT FILE FROM THE RIGHT
OFFICE,WE ARE HERE TO PROTECT THE INTEGRITY AND IMAGE OF THIS MONEYGRAM
YOU SHOULD UNDERSTAND THAT DELAYING CAN BE VERY DANGERIOUS AND MAY COURSE YOU
MISFORTUNE IN RECEIVING YOUR FUND,YOU DO NOT HAVE TO WAIT ANY LONGER .SINCE THIS
OFFICE IS MAKING ALL NECESSARYL ARRANGEMENT TO BE SURE THAT YOUR PAYMENT IS BEEN
COMMERCE ONCE WE CONFIRM THE REQUESTED PAYMENT AND
SHOULD GO AHEAD TO SEND US THAT REQUIRED ($172 USD) AND BE REST ASSURED THAT
WITHIN 3HOURS YOUR MONEY WILL BE CONFIRM TO YOUR ADDRESS AND YOU WILL CASH IT
FROM ANY OF OUR CORRUSPONDANT MONEYGRAM BRANCH THERE IN YOUR COUNTRY BE REST
ASSURE OF THIS MONEYGRAM OFFICE
INTERGRITY AND PERSONAL SERVICE.AND NOTE THAT THIS IS THE ONLY FEE YOU ARE GOING
TO PAY UNTIL THE TOTAL AMOUNT IS COMPLETE TRANSFER TO
URGENT RESPOND NEEDED FROM YOU.
THANKS FOR YOUR
OFFICE BENIN REPUBLIC.
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU