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. )
- 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, Hong Kong; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: Western Union Money Transfer Office <email@example.com>
Date: Mon, 05 Sep 2011 17:41:58 +1000
Subject: PICK UP YOUR $5000.00USD FROM WESTERN UNION
I write to inform you that we have already sent you
USD5000.00 dollars through Western union as we have
been given the mandate to transfer your full
compensation payment of USD 1.8MillionUSD via western
union by this government.
I called to give you the information through phone as
internet hackers were many but I cannot reach you
yesterday even this morning. So, I decided to email you
the MTCN and sender name with a scan copy of the
payment slip so that can pick up this USD5000.00 to
enable us send another USD5000.00 by tomorrow as you
knows we will be sending you only USD5000.00 per
day.Please pick up this information and run to any
western union in your country to pick up the USD5000.00
and send us email back to send you another payment
Contact Manager Below
Western Union Outlet:
Call or email me once you picked up this USD5000.00 today.
Here is the western union information to pick up the
You have track your payment online www.westernunion.com
Note that your payment is Available for pick up by
your receiver name;s
Sender's Name:_________Julie Stahan
I am waiting for your Email once you pick up USD5000.00,
Western Union Office,
Western UnionÃÂ® Money Transfer.