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. )
- "00,000.00" (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.
- +447017455634 (UK, redirects to a mobile phone in another country)
Fraud email example:
From: "WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2011 21:52:58 +0300
Subject: Re: Payment Information.....Western Union
I write to inform you that we have already sent you $5000.00 US Dollars
through Western union as we have been given the mandate to transfer your full
compensation payment of $1.800,000.00 US Dollars via western union by the
United Nation government United Kingdom.
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 so that can pick up this $5000.00 US
Dollars to enable us send another $5000.00 US Dollars by tomorrow as you
knows we will be sending you only $5000.00 US Dollars per day.
Please pick up this information and run to any western union in your country
to pick up the $5000.00 US Dollars and send us email back to send you another
Contact Manager Below
Western Union Outlet:
Call or email me once you picked up this $5000.00 US Dollars today.Here is
the western union information to pick up the $5000.00 US Dollars.
First Payment Information.
Sender's Fist Name: ___________Paul
Sender's Last Name: ______________Chiozie
Status : Available for pick up by receiver
With due respect please get back to us urgently after the pick of the money
and if you have any problem you can as well contact us immediately.
Thanks for Your Understanding.
Western Union headquarters,
Western Union® Money Transfer.z