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:
- "dear friend" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "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. )
- "money transfer control number" (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. )
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
- 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 (Yahoo; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: "Mrs.Rose Jonson" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2011 18:09:04 -0800 (PST)
Subject: MTCN : 2398162670
Attention My Dear Friend:
This is to inform you that this office was instructed to pay your fund $1.5Million U.S.A Dollars by America security leading team and America representative embassy between now until end of Oct 2011 per day you will receive the sum of $6,000 Dollars,
However be informed that we have send the sum of $6000 Dollars this morning to avoid cancellation of your payment you have only four hours to call this office upon the receipt of this email the maximum amount you will be receiving per day starting from today is $6000 in three different payments and the Money Transfer Control Number of today is below.
Sender's Name; Lisa John
MTCN : 2398162670
Text Question:who is Son
How long Answer: God.
Once again be advice to reconfirm your information such as;
Furthermore you advised to call us as the instruction was passed that within 10 hours without hearing from you. Count your payment cancelled. Number to call is below listed Manager Director Office Rev John Chukwuermeka of release order: +229-6656-7551 ( email@example.com )
Thanks and my regards Mrs.Rose Jonson