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. )
- "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. )
- "the consignment" (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)
- "consignment " (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)
- "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)
- "cotonou" (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.
- 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 (Gmail/GoogleMail; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: USA Ambassador to Benin Republic <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, 4 Mar 2011 03:55:13 +0900 (KST)
Subject: FROM USA Ambassador to Benin Republic
FROM USA Ambassador to Benin Republic
Without mincing words, I am convinced 100% that you have had bitter experience with various 'scammers' claiming to be high government officials and thereby defrauding you of your 'hard-earned money'. The activities of these scammers has changed your perspective about conducting business on the internet, and you now believed there is no genuine business that can be conducted on the internet. Well, I am an American and the internet was created by Americans for the purpose of creating awareness for your products/services and conducting genuine business with ease. I am fully committed to deliver the "diplomatic consignment" to you in the United States in order to differentiate myself from the many Benin Republic you have dealt with. I am a full citizen of the United States, but I was on a Foreign Mission here in Benin as a US Ambassador. Hence, I am making every effort to ensure that no citizen of the United States is cheated by Benin Republic.
Therefore, I need your utmost support and understanding to actualize this dream. I also want you to understand that I do trust you and I expect you to show me the same trust and respect in return since trust is a 2-way street. On the other hand, trust is a relationship of reliance. Trust also means being able to predict what other people will do and what situations will occur.
Trust is both an emotional and logical act. Emotionally, it is where you expose your vulnerabilities to people, but believing they will not take advantage of your openness. Logically, it is where you have assessed the probabilities of gain and loss, calculating expected utility based on hard performance data, and concluded that the person in question will behave in a predictable manner. In practice, trust is a bit of both. I trust you because I have experienced your trustworthiness by merely believing in what I have said, even when you have not seen me, and because I have faith in human nature.
Frankly speaking, I understand that anyone in your shoes will feel betrayed, but I still want you to show me your trust by giving me the benefit of doubt on this delivery arrangement. My identity and personality is verifiable, and I promise to deliver the consignment to you in the United States without any hitch. Please do not allow this mission to die off because of $185.00 dollars. I meant so well for you and I believe you will appreciate me more when you have finally received your partial payment of $2.6 million dollars upon my arrival with the package in United States. I will use my position and personality to deposit the $2.6 million dollars into your bank account in the United States without questioning from the financial monitoring authorities, since all documentations proving the legitimacy of the funds has been processed.
Please don't see me as one of the numerous dubious Benin republic you have dealt with in the past. I am a different person entirely and I come from a different continent. I have the American spirit in me and I hate cheaters. I promise to always uphold the national unity of the United States. Please reply back ASAP and let me know your possibility of sending the $185.00 dollars today.
You can send it via western union with below name.
Receiverâs name......... Onyeaka OKechukwu
Amount ........$185 usd, Only
Mr. James Knight
Emails :( email@example.comÂ )
US Ambassador to Benin Republic +229 9833 0553.
FROM USA Ambassador to Benin Republic