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. )
- "hundred thousand united states dollars" (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)
- "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: "Dr. James Bruce" (may be fake)
Date: Sat, 6 Aug 2011 06:39:22 -0700
Subject: Revised Correct MTCN Number
I want to thank you for helping me out with my transaction which went successfuly through the help of another partner. I was made to understand that you
have not received your compensation all this while through ATM card and other means which has been tried and failed, and due to your inability to meet up
with the fees levied against you through various government offices.
Please I am giving this token as I'd promised to compensate you after everything, please accept this Two Million Five hundred Thousand United States Dollars
(US2.5Mn Dollars) as a token from my heart , prior to this, I have told my personal secretary to transfer the US2.5Mn Dollars to you through Wetern Union,
meanwhile the below is the first US7000.00 Dollars payment information availbale for pick up by you.
Here is the western union information to pick up the US7000.00 Dollars;
Senders first name....Kenneth
Test Question......To whom?
Test Answer...... Customer
Sent From Benin
They will keep sending you US7000.00 Dollars daily until the payment of US2,500.000.00 Dollars is completed. Do not forget to furnish him with your phone
number for easy communication each time he send you US7000.00 Dollars through western union.
Please,contact Mr. Jerry Ganou if there is any problem with this email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) or reach him on phone call. +229-99238528 please
contact him now so that he will send you another one today please if you have a problem with the MTCN or the sender Name try to reach him by phone or email
him so that he will correct it for you.
Thank you very much,
Dr. James Bruce