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.
- 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. )
- "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. )
- "inheritance funds" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "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 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.
- 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: CHIMMA JOHN <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, 12 Dec 2009 19:02:05 +0100
Subject: Attn Beneficiary;
The Board of federal ministry of finance Benin Republic are here by to
notify you of your payment inheritance funds of ($4 .5million USA
Dollar) after the meeting held on 12th of December.2009.with His
Excellence the PRESIDENT OF FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF BENIN (DR YAYI BONI)
has Instructed this Department to send your funds through the western
union moneytransfer, for easy receive of your inheritance funds
without any further delay to avoid paying money tothe fraud stars that
is going on through internet now,You are required to send your name
and address Where you want your fund to be send to you through WESTERN
UNION MONEY TRANSFER.
The maximium amount you will be receiving per a day starting from
tomorrow is $9,000) and the MTCN NO# will be sent along with the Text
Questions & Answers for you to receive your fund through any Western
Union Location in your Country. Send your information now to Hn David
Williams of westernunion money transfer in Cotonou Benin Republic.
For further procedure Contact the payment officer with the information
below;Attention; Hn David Williams.Western Union Money TransferTel;
+2299-867-89-10 Email;( firstname.lastname@example.org ) You will pay
them the renewing,processing and reconfirming fee of only $125 to
renew your payment file that was deposited in the office with your
name and they will start sending your money $9,000 per day Try to fill
the Above Informations where they will besending you your money and
do let me know immediately you get your fund for us to share the joy
Yours in service
This message was sent using IMP, the Internet Messaging Program.