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:
- "contact the atm card center" (this phrase is often used in the ATM card payment scam)
- "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. )
- "is 100% risk free" (almost true for the criminal trying to scam you - arrests of online criminals are rare)
- "charles c. soludo" (the name of a person or institution often appearing in 419 scams)
- "central bank of nigeria" (the name of a person or institution often appearing in 419 scams)
- "email@example.com" (this email address has been used in a known scam)
- 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.
- MoneyGram money transfer is completely untraceable and therefore is *not* safe to use with anyone you do not know personally. Along with Western Union it is a 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.
Fraud email example:
From: "FBI Director Robert S.Mueller" (may be fake)
Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2010 07:14:17 +0100
This is to Officially inform you that it has come to our notice and we have
thoroughly Investigated with the help of our Intelligence Monitoring Network
System that you are having an illegal Transaction with Impostors claiming to be
Prof. Charles C. Soludo of the Central Bank Of Nigeria, Mr. Patrick Aziza,
MrFrank Nweke, none officials of Oceanic Bank, Zenith Banks, kelvin Young of
HSBC,Ben of Fedex,Ibrahim Sule,Larry Christopher, Puppy Scammers are impostors
claiming to be the Federal Bureau Of Investigation. During our Investigation, we
noticed that the reason why you have not received your payment is because you
have not fulfilled your Financial Obligation given to you in respect of your
Therefore, we have contacted the Federal Ministry Of Finance on your behalf and
they have brought a solution to your problem by cordinating your payment in
total USD$11,000.000.00 in an ATM CARD which you can use to withdraw money from
any ATM MACHINE CENTER anywhere in the world with a maximum of $4,000 to $5,000
United States Dollars daily. You now have the lawful right to claim your fund in
an ATM CARD.
Since the Federal Bureau of Investigation is involved in this transaction, you
have to be rest assured for this is 100% risk free it is our duty to protect the
American Citizens. All I want you to do is to contact the ATM CARD CENTER via
email for their requirements to proceed and procure your Approval Slip on your
behalf which will cost you $110.00 only and note that your Approval Slip which
contains details of the agent who will process your transaction.
NAME: Mike Williams
Telephone Number: +234-803-357-0260
You are adviced to contact Mr mike williams with the informations as stated
Your full Name..
So your files would be updated after which he will send the payment informations
which you'll use in making payment of $110.00 via Western Union Money Transfer
or Money Gram Transfer for the procurement of your Approval Slip after which the
delivery of your ATM CARD will be effected to your designated home address
without any further delay.
We order you get back to this office after you have contacted the ATM SWIFT CARD
CENTER and we do await your response so we can move on with our Investigation
and make sure your ATM SWIFT CARD gets to you.
Thanks and hope to read from you soon.
FBI Director Robert S.Mueller III.
Note: Do disregard any email you get from any impostors or offices claiming to