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. )
- "your urgent reply" (scammers rush victims so they don't have time to think properly)
- "contact me immediately" (scammers rush victims so they don't have time to think properly)
- "power of attorney" (with your bank details and a power of attorney form criminals sometimes empty bank accounts)
- "courier service" (Courier companies mentioned in 419 scams are always fake. They will have you send money to them, but won't deliver anything. )
- "central bank of nigeria" (the name of a person or institution often appearing in 419 scams)
- "lagos" (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.
- Barristers (lawyers) mentioned in 419 scams are always fake.
- 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.
Fraud email example:
From: "Mr. Charles Agu" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Reply-To: "Mr. Charles Agu" <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, 20 Apr 2010 09:49:59 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: OVER DUE PAYMENT BY DRAFT.`
FROM: DR. CHARLES AGU.
CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA
DRAFT PAYMENT UNIT.
Your payment has been scheduled to pay by stifled bank draft through this office.
Contact me immediately with your receiving address were the draft will be mailed to you. You can call me on direct number + 234 8139150791 at any time.
I hope you know the reason why I am NOT sending you the payment by wire transfer? If you try to receive it by bank-to-bank wire transfer, it will cost you much and there will be too many demand of one document after the other by different authorities here and there. That is why I programmed it by bank draft, as it will cost you only a little money for the courier service delivery. I am a very sincere person therefore I would not want to shit any body or put hands into what will spoil my name in any way. I know you must have passed through a lot of disappointment and frustration in trying to receive these funds. But due to the fact that you have come across me, you are rest assured of dealing with a good Christian and reliable person. So feel free in dealing with me and try to follow my instructions and directives, you will not regret coming across my person..
Sir your receiving address must be safe and secured. So in reconfirmation of it, do also go ahead to send the postal service cost of US$150:75 cents only. This is the only money you need to send and receive your draft.
Send the money by western union money transfer or money gram in the name of the receiver as stated below and send me the payment information as soon as possible. Sir as soon as I received the money you will receive the draft within 48 hours.
Receiver: Onyeka Abasiri
Destination: Lagos Nigeria
Q: what for
I wait your urgent reply but If after 72 hours, I did not hear from you, I will believed that you are not the rightful owner of the draft and will demand that you give me a power of attorney to make a change of beneficiary to those who are on line to receive their payment as over due.
Dr. Charles Agu