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.
Click here to report a problem with this page.
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. )
- "registration fee" (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 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 (Cooltoad; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
- us ambassador to benin republic. contact email: email@example.com alternate email: firstname.lastname@example.org my (Cooltoad; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: "HON. JAMES KNIGHT" <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2012 15:53:40 +0100 (BST)
Subject: FROM UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO BENIN REPUBLIC REGARDING YOUR ATM CARD
FROM AMBASSADOR JAMES KNIGHT.
THE UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO BENIN REPUBLIC/201 EMBASSY SUIT COTONOU,REPUBLIC
ARE YOU AND YOUR FAMILY TODAY? I HOPE YOU ARE ALL FINE BY THE GRACE OF ALMIGHTY
AM HON. JAMES KNIGHT, THE UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO BENIN REPUBLIC. I AM
WRITING TO LET YOU KNOW THAT I WILL BE VISITING YOUR COUNTRY FOR AN OFFICIAL
MEETING ASSIGNMENT AND I WILL LIKE TO COME ALONG WITH YOUR PAYMENT OF (US$2.5
MILLION) THAT WAS LOADED IN AN ATM MASTER CARD, BUT YOU KNOW THAT I WILL GO
THROUGH CUSTOMS AND HOME LAND SECURITY BUT AS LONG AS I AM A US AMBASSADOR TO
BENIN REPUBLIC AND ALSO A UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT AGENT. I HAVE THE VETO POWER
TO PASS THROUGH CUSTOMS WITH ANY PACKAGE REGISTERED AS AN AMBASSADORIAL
I AM SCHEDULED TO HAVE A BRIEF MEETING WITH THE
SECRETARY OF THE STATES THIS WEEK, SO I WILL BE COMING WITH YOUR OVER DUE
PAYMENT WHICH HAVE BEEN DELAYING IN THIS COUNTRYFOR A VERY LONG TIMEBY THE
BANKS, WESTERN UNION AND MONEY GRAM OFFICES IN AFRICA .
YOU SHOULD SEND TO ME YOUR TELEPHONE NUMBER AND ALSO
RECONFIRM TO ME YOUR CURRENT ADDRESS WHERE I SHOULD BRING YOUR ATM MASTER CARD
PACKAGE WHICH CONTAINS YOUR TOTAL SUM OF US$2.5MILLION. YOU HAVE REALLY PAID SO
MUCH TO THE WRONG PEOPLE IN OTHER TO RECEIVE YOUR FUNDS WHICH FAILED AS I WAS
MADE TO UNDERSTAND AND THAT IS WHY I HAVE PERSONALLY INTERVENED YOU ARE A VERY
LUCKY PERSON BECAUSE I WILL BE BRINGING IT MYSELF AND THERE IS NOTHING ANYONE
CAN DO ABOUT IT, BECAUSE ALL THE WELFARE OF THE CITIZENS ARE MY CONCERN. I AM
HERE TO PROTECT THE INTEREST OF THE AMERICAN CITIZENS NOT TO BE CHEATED BY THE
AFRICANS. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH OF THIS DELAYING OF YOUR FUNDS HERE IN THIS
YOUR ATM CARD PACKAGE WORTH (US$2.5MILLION) MUST BE
REGISTERED AS AN AMBASSADORIAL PACKAGE FOR ME TO DEFEAT ALL ODDS BUT THE COST OF
REGISTERING IT IS US$300.00, WHICH IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO BE TAKEN CARE OF,
BUT DUE TO THE FACT THAT I DO NOT KNOW YOUR FINANCIAL SITUATION AT THIS TIME, I
AM ADVISING YOU TO SUPPORT ME ONLYWITH($120.00), SO I CAN ADD IT UP WITH $180.00
WHICH I HAVE AT HAND RIGHT NOW TO HAVE YOUR PACKAGE LEGALLY REGISTERED AND AS
SOON AS I ARRIVE TO YOUR HOUSE ADDRESS WITH YOUR ATM CARD I WILL FOLLOW YOU TO
ANY ATM MACHINE CENTER AROUND YOU SO YOU CAN WITHDRAW MONEY FROM YOUR ATM CARD
AND THEN BALANCE ME THE $180.00 BEFORE I CAN PROCEED FOR MY OFFICIAL MEETING
ASSIGNMENT IN WASHINGTON D.C.
PLEASE, I AM SORRY THAT I
COULD NOT PAY THE WHOLE REGISTRATION FEE ON YOUR BEHALF DUE TO THE REASON THAT I
HAVE ALREADY CALCULATED MY BUDGET FOR MY TRIP TOYOUR COUNTRY THIS WEEK. SO YOU
HAVE TO SEND THE REMAINING $120.00 WITHIN THE NEXT 50 HOURSVIA WESTERN UNION SO
THAT ALL NECESSARY ARRANGEMENT CAN BE MADE BEFORE TIME WILL BE AGAINST US
SHOULD SEND THE FEE DIRECTLY TO THE REGISTRATION OFFICER WITH THE INFORMATION
RECEIVER'S NAME --------MR.EJIMOFOR
ADDRESS -------- 201 EMBASSY SUIT, COTONOU -
TEXT QUESTION -----
ANSWER ------- HI
AMOUNT TO SEND-------------
MY TRIP TO YOUR COUNTRY WILL BE BY THIS WEEKEND
I EXPECT YOU TO COMPLY NOW SO THAT THE DELIVERY CAN BE COMPLETED TO YOUR DOOR
STEP THIS WEEKEND. IF YOU DO NOT COMPLY ON TIME, THEN IT WILL NOT BE MY FAULT IF
YOU DO NOT RECEIVE YOUR ATM CARD PACKAGE. THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU TO
RECEIVE YOUR ATM CARD NOW!. HOWEVER, YOU WILL STOP ANY FURTHER COMMUNICATION YOU
MAY BE HAVING WITH ANY BODY OR OFFICE REGARDING YOUR ATM CARD BECAUSE I WILL BE
DELIVERING IT DIRECTLY TO YOUR DOOR STEP MYSELF THIS WEEK AS SOON AS YOU HAVE
COMPLIED WITH MY INSTRUCTION.
I AM WAITING FOR YOUR REPLY WITH
PAYMENT INFORMATION A.S.A.P.
HON. JAMES KNIGHT.
US AMBASSADOR TO BENIN
CONTACT EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
ALTERNATE EMAIL: email@example.com
Signed: Hon. James
Officer United States Embassy In Benin.
email is officially from the United States Ambassador to Benin Republic. The
information contained in this message is confidential and/or privileged.... This
message is intended to be read only by the person named above.. The unauthorized
use,disclosure,copying or alteration of this message is strictly prohibited. If
you are not the addressee, (or responsible for delivery of the message to the
addressee), please notify the originator by return message and destroy the
original message. "Thank you