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. )
- "moneygram" (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. )
- "00,000.00" (they want you to be blinded by the prospect of quick money, but the only money that ever changes hands in 419 scams is from you to the criminals)
- "robert mueller" (This name is often mentioned in money recovery scams (re-scam): the real FBI will not tell you to contact some email address. If you are in any doubt, contact an FBI field office via www.fbi.gov. )
- "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)
- "firstname.lastname@example.org" (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.
Fraud email example:
From: "Federal Bureau Of Investigation" (may be fake)
Date: Sat, 15 Jan 2011 01:28:40 -0800
Subject: ATM CARD PAYMENT
Anti-Terrorist and Monitory Crimes Division.
Federal Bureau Of Investigation.
J. Edgar. Hoover Building, Washington D.C
This is to Officially inform you that it has come to our notice and we have thoroughly completed an 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, Mr Frank Nweke,Sanusi Bello none officials of Oceanic Bank, none officials of Zenith Bank and some impostors claiming to be the Federal Bureau Of Investigation agents. During our Investigation, it came to our notice 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 Contract/Inheritance Payment.
So therefore, we have contacted the Federal Ministry Of Finance on your behalf and they have brought a solution to your problem by coordinating your payment in the total amount of $800,000.00 USD which will be deposited into an ATM CARD which you will use to withdraw funds anywhere of the world. You now have the lawful right to claim your funds which have been deposited into the ATM CARD.
Since the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been involved in this transaction, you are now to be rest assured that this transaction is legitimate and completely risk-free as it is our duty to Protect and Serve citizens of the United States Of America. All you have to do is immediately contact the ATM CARD CENTER via E-mail for instructions on how to procure your Approval Slip which contains details on how to receive and activate your ATM CARD for immediate use to withdraw funds being paid to you. We have confirmed that the amount required to procure the Approval Slip will cost you a total of $200 USD which will be paid directly to the ATM CARD CENTER agent via Western Union Money Transfer / MoneyGram Money Transfer. Below, you shall find contact details of the Agent whom will process your transaction:
NAME: MR. PAUL SMITH
EMAIL : email@example.com
Immediately contact Mr. Paul Smith of the ATM Card Centre with the following information:
Direct Phone Number:
Once you have sent the required information to Mr. Paul Smith he will contact you with instructions on how to make the payment of $200 USD for the Approval Slip after which he will proceed towards delivery of the ATM CARD without any further delay. You have hereby been authorized/guaranteed by the Federal Bureau Of Investigation to commence towards completing this transaction, as there shall be NO delay once payment for the Approval Slip has been made to the authorized agent.
Once you have completed payment of $200 to the agent in charge of this transaction, immediately contact me back so as to ensure your ATM CARD gets to you rapidly.