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. )
- "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. )
- 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 (Gmail/GoogleMail; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: "WESTERN UNION" (may be fake)
Date: Sat, 13 Oct 2018 10:51:16 -0000
Subject: Re: GREETING FROM WESTERN UNION/MONEY GRAM.
After proper and several investigations and research at Western Union and Money Gram Office, we found your name in Western Union database among those that have sent money through Western Union and this proves that you have truly been swindled by those unscrupulous persons by sending money to them through Western Union/Money Gram in the course of getting one fund or the other that is not real.
In this regard a meeting was held between the Board of Directors of WESTERN UNION, MONEY GRAM, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
alongside with the Ministry of Finance, As a consequence of our investigations it was agreed that the sum of one Hundred and Fifty Thousand United States Dollars ($150,000.00 USD) should be transferred to you out from the funds that the United States Department of the Treasury has set aside as compensation payment for scam victims. This case would be handled and supervised by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
We have submitted your details to them so that your funds can be transferred to you.
Contact the Western Union agent office through the information below:
Contact Person: Vickie Kries
Address: Western Union/Money gram Post Office, Florida USA.
DIRECTOR FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON, D.C. 20535