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:
- An email address listed inside this email has been used in a known fraud before.
- The following phrases in this message should put you on alert:
- "i have a new email address!" (this SPAM email was probably sent to thousands of people)
- "cotonou" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- "federal republic of benin" (Benin, Cameroon, etc. are no Federal Republics, unlike Nigeria where this type of scam was invented)
- This email message is a fake lottery scam. Consider the following facts about real lotteries:
- They don't notify winners by email.
- You can't win without first buying a lottery ticket.
- They don't randomly select email addresses to award prizes to.
- They don't use free email accounts (Yahoo, Hotmail, etc) to communicate with you.
- They don't tell you to call a mobile phone number.
- They don't tell you to keep your winnings secret.
- They will never ask a winner to pay any fees to receive a prize!
- 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.
- +22998688340 (Benin, probably a prepaid mobile phone)
- 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 (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: (sent from abused email account)
Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2008 04:20:16 +0530 (IST)
Subject: URGENT ATTENTION FOR YOUR TRANSFER TRACER
I have a new email address!You can now email me at: email@example.com
- FEDERAL MINISTRY OF FINANCE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF BENIN HEAD OFFICE: NO. 140 ALINO AZIKIWE WAY ASOKORO, FEDERAL CAPITAL TERRITORY, BENIN, COTONOU. BRANCH OFFICE: NO.101 ADELOA ODEKU STREET VICTORIA ISLAND, PORTO-NOVO, BENIN. Attn: Your are urgently informed that your funds ($1.5Million) has been 17/10/08 transferred to your designated account following the order of Hon. Minister of Finance Federal Republic of Benin. Please you are advised to contact Dr. Ali Modu Sheriff, the Director Due Process Unit for your Transfer Tracer and Funds Release Order Documents. His phone is +22998688340 and E-mail: (firstname.lastname@example.org). Don't fail to reach him immediately for your Transfer Tracer to be sent to you if you go to your bank and still could not confirm the funds in your bank account. Yours Faithfully, Mr. George Hunter National Coordinator Foreign Payment.