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:
- "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. )
- "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)
- "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.
- 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: =?iso-8859-1?Q?Western_Union=AE_Money_Transfer?= <email@example.com>
Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2011 00:37:18 -0800 (PST)
Subject: RE: 2011 SCAM VICTIM'S COMPENSATION FROM THE IMF BENIN
RE: 2011 SCAM VICTIM'S COMPENSATION FROM THE IMF BENINWelcome to Western Union®
Send Money Worldwide
Attention: E-mail Address Owner
RE: 2011 SCAM VICTIM'S COMPENSATION FROM THE IMF BENIN
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is compensating all the scam victims and your email address was found in the scam victim's list. This Western Union® office has been mandated by the IMF to transfer your compensation to you via Western Union® Money Transfer.
However, we have concluded to affect your own payment through Western Union® Money Transfer, $5,000 twice daily until the total sum of $500,000.00USD is completely transferred to you. We can not be able to send the payment with your email address alone, thereby we need your information as to where we will be sending the funds, such as; Receiver's name:.... Address:....Country:.....Phone number:.....Attached copy of your Identification...Contact our Customer Care at (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your full information.
Note that your payment files will be returned to the IMF within 72 hours if we did not hear from you, this was the instruction given to us by the IMF. We will start the transfer as soon as we received your information. For urgent inquiry, call +22998679345
Director Western Union® Money Transfer,
Head Office Benin Republic.
This email is intended for the owner of this E-mail Address only and contains privileged and confidential information. If you received this email by error, please delete it from your mail box and notify us immediately for correction. The disclosure of this email to a third party is highly prohibited. Thanks for your understanding.
© 2001-2010 Western Union Holdings, Inc. All Rights Reserved