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:
- "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. )
- "economic and financial crimes commission" (This name is often mentioned in money recovery scams (re-scam): the real EFCC does not contact victims to offer to get their money back because that is near impossible. )
- "(efcc)" (This name is often mentioned in money recovery scams (re-scam): the real EFCC does not contact victims to offer to get their money back because that is near impossible. )
- "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.
- 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 (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: "EFCC FRAUD MONITORING UNIT"<email@example.com> (may be fake)
Reply-To: < firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 14 Jun 2011 20:36:35 -0700
Subject: EFCC INVESTIGATION (ABORT ALL TRANSACTIONS
After proper and several investigations and research at Western Union and
Money Gram Office, we found your name in Western Union database amongst
those that have sent money through Western Union to Nigeria and this
proves that you have truly been swindled by those unscrupulous persons by
sending money to them through Western Union/Money Gram in the course of
getting one fund or the other that is not real, right now we are working
hand in hand with Western Union to track every fraudsters down, do not
respond to their e-mails, letters and phone calls any longer as they are
scammers and you should be very careful to avoid being a victim to
fraudsters any longer because they have nothing to offer you but to
rip-off what you have worked earnestly hard to earn.
In this regard a meeting was held between the Board of Directors of The
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside with the
Ministry of Finance - Nigeria and as a consequence of our investigations
it was agreed that the sum of sixty thousand US Dollars (US$60,000.00)
should be transferred to you out of the funds that Federal Government of
Nigeria has set aside as a compensation to everyone who have by one way or
the other sent money to fraudsters in Nigeria.
***Please note that we will no longer be liable for any loss, cost or
expense whatsoever, suffered or incurred by You in connection with the
We have deposited your fund at Western Union Money Transfer agent location
EMS Post office Lagos, Nigeria.
We have submitted your details to them so that your fund can be
transferred to you. We have paid the Registration and Transfer fees and
for security reasons we have also insured your fund to avoid
Contact the Western Union agent office through any of the email addresses
Contact Person: Charles Mark
Contact Email : email@example.com
Contact Phone : +234-709-447-7929
Please note that e-mails, letters and phone calls are currently been made
to unsuspecting persons by fraudsters claiming to have access to their
funds. Everyday, people throughout the world are falling victim to scams
of one way or the other. It could be an unexpected prize draw or lottery
win, or a chance to invest in an exciting new money-making or investment
programme . In the circumstance, we unreservedly advice you to dissociate
yourself from all correspondence and transactions entered into based on
evidently fraudulent and fictitious claims.