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. )
- "mtcn" (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. )
- "email@example.com" (this email address has been used in a known scam)
- 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.
Fraud email example:
From: (sent from abused email account)
Date: Sat, 12 Jun 2010 08:17:33 +0100
We write to inform you that we have already sent you
$10,000 US dollars through Western Union as we have
been given the mandate to transfer your full
compensation payment of $520,000.00 USD via Western
Union by the United Nations Government. So we decided
to email you the MTCN and sender's name, so you can
pick up this $10,000USD to enable us send another
$10,000USD by tomorrow as you know we will be
sending you only $10,000USD per day. Please pick up
this information and run to any Western Union in your
country to pick up the $10,000USD and call me back
to send you another payment tomorrow.
Officer incharge: Mr. George Vanbuskirk
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Call or email me once you picked up this $10,000USD
today. Here is the western union information, you can
also track it on-line at www.westernunion.com for
confirmation before going to their office to pick up
Sender First Name: George
Sender Last Name: Vanbuskirk
Text Question= Prize
Text Answer= Win
Mr. George Vanbuskirk
Call me via +2348136743129