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:
- "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. )
- "million us dollars" (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)
- "high court" (Barristers (lawyers) mentioned in 419 scams are always fake.)
- "federal high court" (This court is often mentioned in '419' scams to give the victim a reason why he/she should send thousands of dollars to the scammers. A 'Federal High Court' exists in Germany and Nigeria, but not in other countries, such as the UK, Spain, Netherlands, Senegal, Benin, South Africa or other countries where fake lawyers in scams often claim to be based. )
- "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.
Fraud email example:
From: "Dr. Peter Mack" <>
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2011 12:37:17 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Contact the bank now now.
The Western Union have be waited for you since to respond to them
regarding the Certificate so that they can send you your payment after
obtaining the Document of the Funds Ownership Certificate but they did not
receive the Certificate so the Western Union return the fund back to my
office and i went ahead to deposit the $2.5 Million Us Dollars funds in
Eco bank but i did not heard from you since after informing you that your
funds $2.5 Million Us Dollars was with Western Union.
Then I went and deposited the cash with ECO BANK PLC here in (Benin
Republic) because it has been in the Western Union Office since waiting
for you to forward them the Certificate and now they returned it back to
my office and is in the bank now and it was deposited in bank officials
account which any of the bank official can access .
I want You to contact the ECO BANK BENIN REPUBLIC to let them know when
they will Transfer your fund and advise to send your information to them
to enable them know were they will wired your fund to within 24 hours of
you contacting them .
YOUR FULL NAME.............
FULL BANKING INFORMATION...........
NAME OF COUNTRY....................
NAME OF BANK.........................
The only money you have to send to them is $95 for the form they will
obtain for you which will issue by the Federal High Court of Benin
Republic for the transaction to be legal and it is $95.00 Us Dollars to
enable them obtain the form on your behalf immediately and wire the money
into your account without any delay.
This is the bank Contact Address,
ECO BANK PLC BENIN REPUBLIC.
Executive Director MR M Anold Apke..
DIRECTOR FOREIGN OPERATIONS
TELEPHONE ...+229-938 153 50
Try to contact them as soon as possible to avoid delay and here is the
payment information and after the payment is done , please forward it to
the bank and us here.
RECEIVER'S NAME_________NWALIEJI MARCEL OLUCHUKWU.
TEXT QUESTION____WHO ARE YOU?
Thanks And Remain bless.
Dr. Peter Mack