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:
- "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. )
- "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.
- 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: "Mr. John Francis" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thu, 3 Apr 2014 14:15:38 -0800
Subject: Attention! From F.B.I
Attention! From F.B.I
We have been watching every single transaction you made since last year
until this 2014 and you have to know that we are also working to make sure
your funds which are suppose to be delivered to you, and also bear in mind
that what ever you emailing us will be forward to the court.
Also we are hereby to notify by the Federal Bureau Of Investigation Cotonou
Department of the insult you imposed on them by failing to comply by their
Your full residential address has been forwarded to us for your immediate
arrest to face your charge but I deemed it and fit to give you one more
chance to save yourself from this mess.
We have been told that you have failed to dance by the rule of the FBI
which will warrant 2 years jail sentence. Now I John Francis the special
agent in charge of the FBI Albany Department giving you 24 working hours to
effect the payment of the $39.00 usd. To the FBI in Republic Of Benin (FBI
SECURITY) with the information written below:
Receiver Name: PETER EKWENYE
Country: Benin Republic
Test Question: Arrival
Text Answer: Arrival
Amount: $39.dollars only
Mtcn number: _____________
Urgent to go and send the fee
You have to try as much as you can and make this payment so that your funds
will be delivered immediately to your destination.You have to stop every
transaction you are communicating with other organization to avoid delay on
the processing of your funds.
Note that you? if you fail to stick with my advice or any delay will lead
to us coming directly to your home address at any time, so try and dance by
the rule and get back to me with good understanding ASAP.
Special Agent in Charge;
Mr. John Francis Direct line +229-98333967