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:
- 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:
- "atm payment department" (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. )
- "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. )
- "clearance document" (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. )
- "you are advice to " (this email uses bad English)
- "cotonou" (a location commonly mentioned 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.
- 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.
- email@example.com (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: "ATM PAYMENT DEPARTMENT FINANCIAL BANK(Foreign Operation Dept)" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2011 22:08:30 -1200
Subject: The Agent has arrived in ORLANDO FLORIDA with package Code FdEx57-BC59-652101
This is in response to file passed to us from the highest authorities.
Thank you for your email and the informations you send to us, We received an
emails from a man called, By name Dr. Robert Dowling he said that he is your
friend, Please here come a big question how do he know about this Atm card
on your name? he called us yesterday with his phone number claimed that
you are dead , he said that we should devert your ATM CARD to his home
address. Furthermore you are advice to be very fast as the Agent Deparker
has no time to waste due to his flight ticket and he have only today to stay
before he can go back by tomorrow morning. Please note that we receive call
from the agent this morning and he said that the custom has holdup your
package there in USA, and the requested for yellow tag and clearance
documents and they said that the document is needed today and i have called
many offices and they said that the cost of the documents is $42 (US$) and
you have to send it today before it will be too late. We will courier all
the enter document that cover this transfer together with the ATM. we have
a meetting today that you have to send us the fee of $42 (US$)) to get you a
certificate of clearance to prove to Dr. Robert Dowling that you are still
He said that we should send it to him because he is the next of kin to
you, convince me that you are still alive, because the man said that he
will be in our office by tomorrow morning to to sign the document to prove
that you are death and he will provide your International pass-port to us .
Please convince me now so that i will not devert your Atm card to him. he
said that you died yesterday night. and they are here to claim your Atm
card. he said that she is willing to pay any money to make sure that the Atm
card is send to his destination address. please let me know if this is true
or not as am confused now and if we do not see your response as soon as
possible then we will know is true and enrooted you're Atm card to his
You are advice to send the money with the below details, Furthermore
remember the Agent delivering the package does not know the content of that
of the package So act on your party by sending the $42 (US$) via western
union only with the below details:
Recivers name:---- Onyekachi James
Country:--- Benin Republic
Question:----What is the name of the receiver?
Forward the MTCN, Q and A to this email : ( email@example.com
Or firstname.lastname@example.org) to enable us issue the transfer to your
position accordingly. So that the delivery agent will deliver your atm
package to you by today without any further delay again. Please try all you
can to send this fee today and call the agent today. AGENT NAME: Paul
George. Tele: +1 206-426-6305. Fax: +1 206-426-6017.
Waiting to hear from you soon.
Thanks and we remain the Financial Bank Customer care promising to serve you
Mr. Williams Peter.
The Director of Atm payment department financial bank Benin Republic.