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. )
- "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.
- 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 (Yahoo; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: "Rev. Omede Joshua Patrick" <email@example.com>
Date: Mon, 4 Jul 2011 07:34:14 +0100 (BST)
Subject: MONEY GRAM REF NUMBER: 5645-3563
UBA BANK HEAD OFFICE
741 Rue des Francisains Adidogome
Benin Republic / Lome broader
P.O Box 9263
Dear Valued Customer,
Greetings, am very sorry for taken too much of your time at this moment but please try to understand and bear with me as soon as you go through this urgent message, since this is not the first i am sending you this message, please know that the only thing left for you to do now is to pay the (A.R.O) Authorization Release Order of $77.00USD which is the only charges you will be ask to pay.
This are your funds which is already in our system to transfer to you and it will be release to you as soon as you pay the (A.R.O) Authorization Release Order fees of $77.00USD
This is your (1) Ref-control number of $20,000.00USD:
Sender Name: Rev. Omede Joshua Patrick
Ref Number: 5645-3563 -
Question: Paid to ?
For us to give you the complete information's is for you to send the requested fees/charges to our cashier directly Mr. Simeon Nwabunne
Receiver Name: Mr. Simeon Nwabunne
Receiver Country: Benin Republic
Question: who made?
We assure you that as soon as you send the $77.00USD via western union or Money-Gram your funds will automatically release to you before 20min's time, so I hope to hear from you soonest to precede your transfer immediately.
Rev. Omede Joshua Patrick
Managing Director (Foreign Dept)
UBA Bank Money-Gram Office,
Call me at +229-6656-7551
E-mail address <firstname.lastname@example.org>