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. )
- "money gram" (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 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)
- "united state of america" (this email uses bad English)
- "abuja" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- "lagos" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- 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: ROBERT MARK <email@example.com>
Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2011 14:49:59 +0700
Subject: US AMBASSADOR TO NIGERIA
US AMBASSADOR TO NIGERIA
11 GARKI ROAD ABUJA
I SHALL BE COMING TO YOUR COUNTRY FOR AN OFFICIAL MEETING ON THURSDAY
AND I WILL BE BRINGING WITH YOUR FUNDS OF $5 MILLION DOLLARS ALONG
WITH ME BUT THIS TIME I WILL NOT GO THROUGH CUSTOMS BECAUSE AS AN
AMBASSADOR TO NIGERIA, I AM A US GOVERNMENT AGENT AND I HAVE THE VETO
POWER TO GO THROUGH CUSTOMS. AS SOON AS I AM THROUGH WITH THE MEETING
I SHALL THEN PROCEED TO YOUR ADDRESS. (SEND YOUR CELL PHONE NUMBER AND
THE ADDRESS WHERE YOU WANT ME TO BRING THE PACKAGE).
YOU HAVE REALLY PAID SO MUCH IN THIS DELIVERY THAT MAKES ME WONDER.
YOU ARE A VERY LUCKY PERSON BECAUSE I SHALL BE BRINGING IT MYSELF AND
THERE IS NOTHING ANYONE CAN DO ABOUT IT.
YOUR PACKAGE($5 MILLLION DOLLARS ONLY) MUST BE REGISTERED AS AN
AMBASSADORIAL PACKAGE FOR ME TO DEFEAT ALL ODDS AND THE COST OF
REGISTERING IT IS $199.00.THE FEE MUST BE PAID IN THE NEXT 50 HOURS
VIA WESTERN UNION SO THAT ALL NECCESSARY ARRANGEMENT CAN BE MADE
BEFORE TIME WILL BE AGAINST US.
SEND THE FEE VIA MONEY GRAM OR WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER
RECEIVER'S NAME: OMETU PAUL
TEXT QUESTION: IN GOD WE TRUST?
AS SOON AS YOU SEND THE FEE MAKE SURE YOU SEND ME THE PAYMENT
INFORMATION. MY FLIGHT IS THURSDAY AND I EXPECT YOU TO COMPLY BEFORE
THEN SO THAT THE DELIVERY CAN BE COMPLETED. IF YOU DO NOT COMPLY, THEN
IT WILL NOT BE MY FAULT IF YOU DO NOT RECEIVE YOUR PACKAGE.
AMBASSADOR ROBERT MARK SANDERS.
UNITED STATE OF AMERICA AMBASSADOR
TELEPHONE NUMBER +234 7084359745