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:
- "from the desk of" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "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. )
- "time is not on our side" (scammers rush victims so they don't have time to think properly)
- "money orders " (Beware of any scheme that involves cashing checks or money orders and then wiring a portion of the funds somewhere - you'll be liable for the entire amount if the checks or money orders turn out to be fake, even after you have received and forwarded cash. If it's a lottery prize, remember that real lotteries do not pay large prizes by check. They wire the money directly to your bank account and you do not pay for that. Many scammers promise a large check only in order to then demand payment of courier fees for a fake courier service. )
- 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.
- +22998442238 (Benin, probably a prepaid mobile phone)
Fraud email example:
From: ralph tunde <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sun, 19 Jul 2009 08:58:57 +0000
Subject: CONTACT WESTERN UNION FOR YOUR PAYMENT NOW
CONTACT WESTERN UNION FOR YOUR PAYMENT NOW
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Welcome to Western Union® Consumers have looked to Western Union® to help them stay connected to loved ones around the world for more than 150 years. We are a global leader in money transfer services, offering the ability to send money to more than 320,000 Western Union Agent locations in over 200 countries and territories. Count on Western Union to transfer money, send bill payments, and purchase money orders and prepaid services. For urgent Enquiry call +229-98442238 or E-mail our Customer Care @email@example.com Thanks for your patronage!
THE MANAGEMENT OF WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER OFFICE BENIN BRANCH.FROM
THE DESK OF WESTERN UNION REMMITANCE DEPT.
Attention To The Owner Of This E-mail,
How are you today? I write to inform you that we have been authorized to be sending you $5,000.00 dollars on daily basis
through Western union as we have been given the mandate to transfer your full compensation payment total sum of $2.5M via
western union by this governemnt. The government of Benin Republic is compensating those from America/Asia and Europe, Etc.
citizens that have been scammed by africa scammers. Today when we tried to transfer the first $5,000.00 Dollars we could not,
we found out that you have not given us your real names address and city where to transfer the money.
Now, I decided to email you to solicite for the information needed tostart transferring your money without any delay because
time is not on our side. You are to send below information to our online costumer care email address below:
1, Your full names:
2, Country name and address:
3, Your direct telephone number
Once we receive the above information, we will be sending you only $5,000.00 per day. My direct phone line is +229-98442238,
Western Union Manager DR.BABS COKER, contact us via our costumer care Private Email Address with the above requested
information:(firstname.lastname@example.org) email or call me once you send the requested information. Note, that the
total sum have been programmed to our electronic wire transfer system for transfer once we hear from you.
I am waiting for your call once you send the information, Please email me your direct telephone number because I need to be
calling you once we send any payment for the informations.
THE MANAGEMENT OF WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER, BENIN HEAD OFFICE.
DISPATCHED THIS DAY.
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