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:
- "dear friend" (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. )
- "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. )
- 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 (Gmail/GoogleMail; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: CHIMMA JOHN <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 2010 02:11:13 -0800 (PST)
Subject: MTCN .....0950174534 WE HAVE SEND THE MONEY
I Am Mrs. Ruth
Marshall, secretary to Dr. Timothy Hanson. I'm writing to let you know
about your $4.5Million U.S.D that my boss issued on your name before his
travel out for his business purpose. Before he travels out he
instructed me to send you the total money through Western Union Money
Transfer because it will be less expensive and reliable for you to be
receiving your daily $9000U.S. Dollar until you receive your total money
TRACK IT AND
CONFIRM YOUR FIRST PAYMENT OF ( $9000U.S.D ) WWW.WESTERNUNION.COM
.............. jacob paul
So you are to
contact them on below information, Vital Finance Bank Western Union
Department. Location Address; Plot 1261, Adela Hopewell Street CO/B/REP,
Contact Person: Mr.
Tele phone Number:
Email Address: (
Be advise that the
transfer fee is a compulsory as they told me that is the only money you
will pay until you receive your payment completely . So confirm your
details to avoid any hitches in receiving your full payments.
Also do let me know
immediately you have started picking up your money, but try to comply
with them to enable them serve you better