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:
- 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:
- "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. )
- "million united state 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)
- "you are advise to" (this email uses bad English)
- "united state dollar" (this email uses bad English)
- "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 (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: "GEORGE YUKUMAN" (may be fake)
Date: Wed, 30 Mar 2011 19:09:40 +0100
Subject: FROM REGULAR MAIL POST OFFICE, YOUR URGENT REPLY IS NEEDED
FROM REGULAR MAIL POST OFFICE BENIN.
POST OFFICE ADDRESS: BARNES ROAD P.O BOX12720.
COTONOU BENIN REPUBLIC.
THIS IS TO INFORM YOU THAT THERE IS AN ATM CARD IN THIS OFFICE THAT IS DEPOSITED BY A PRIVATE ORGANIZATION BODY TODAY.
YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS WAS ATTACHED TO IT AND IS TO BE POSTED TO YOU. WE HAVEBEEN WAITING FOR YOU TO CONTACT US FOR YOUR CONFIRMABLE ATM CARD WHICH CONTAINS THE SUM OF $3.7MILLION UNITED STATE DOLLARS AND SOME VITAL DOCUMENTS.SO KINDLY GET BACK TO THIS OFFICE (REGULAR MAIL POST OFFICE BENIN REPUBLIC) TO AVOID FRAUDULENT ISSUES CONCERNING THIS SERVICE. YOU
ARE TO CONFIRM AND PROVIDE TO US YOUR POSTAL ADDRESS BELOW.
YOUR FULL NAME..........
YOUR POSTAL ADDRESS.....
YOUR DIRECT PHONE........
NOTE: THAT YOU ARE TO PAY FOR THE DUTY STAMP FEE OF $60 USD. YOU ARE ADVISE TO SEND THE DUTY STAMP FEE THROUGH WESTERN UNION TO THE POST OFFICE WITH THE OUR PRACTICAL OFFICER'S NAME BELOW AND FORWARD THE PAYMENT INFORMATION TO THE POST OFFICE EMAIL (firstname.lastname@example.org)email@example.com) FOR IMMEDIATE STAMP OF YOUR ATM CARD.
RECEIVER'S NAME......MIKE OFO
NOTE: THAT EVERY CLAIMS HAS AN EXPIRYING PERIOD OF SEVEN WORKING DAYS (7DAYS) SO YOU HAVE TO DO THAT VERY URGENT TO AVOID EXPIRATION.
TELEPHONE NUMBER +229-974-988-76