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. )
- "my direct line" (a "direct line" in a scam usually means an untraceable mobile phone number used by a scammer in an internet cafe, a redirection service number that forwards to a mobile or a free voicemailbox in a different country.)
- "courier company" (Courier companies mentioned in 419 scams are always fake. They will have you send money to them, but won't deliver anything. )
- "cotonou" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- "federal republic of benin" (Benin, Cameroon, etc. are no Federal Republics, unlike Nigeria where this type of scam was invented)
- 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: "Western Union" (may be fake)
Date: Tue, 17 May 2011 16:45:47 +0100
The Board of federal ministery of finance (FMF) Benin Republic are hereby to notify you of your payment inherited funds of $1.5M Which was Approved After the meeting held on 5th March 2011. His Excellency the PRESIDENT OF FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF BENIN (DR YAYI BONI) has Instructed this Department to send your funds through western union money transfer for easy receive of your inherited funds without any further delay to avoid paying money to the fraud sters that is going on through Courier Company.
The maximium amount you will be receiving per a day starting from today is $5000) Also your are required by federal ministery of finance (FMF) Benin Republic to send us the sum of $50.00 dollar for Re-newing and Re-comfirming Of your file that was deposited in this office , as you
can see below.
Our accountant officer sent your first payment of $5000 today,but it is on hold by federal ministery of finance (FMF) Benin Republic , and according to Mrs Linda Udember secretary to federal ministery of finance (FMF) Benin ,he told me that you can not pick up the $5000 now
,because it is onhold , unless you pay the $50 to Renew and Recomfirm your files of your $1.5M Below is the payment information of
your first payment :
Senders Name :FARRELL COBB
Text Question : Food
Answer :... Food
You can track it by typing : www.westernunion.com and click tracking then you enter this MTCN : (9368849270 ) and sender name: FARRELL and last name: COBB. Note immediately we comfirm this $50 for Renew and Recomfirm your files of your total $1.5M you first payment of $5000 will be release to you with out any other delay , So be advise you to try as much as you can send the $50 today to enable us proceeds on this your transaction And your $5000, will release to your immediately And you will begining received your payment
Note below is infomation to send the money through western union money transfer ,
Receiver Name:..Mr Okechukwu Chibike.
Country; Benin Republic
Address; St, Peter & Paul Road Cotonou Benin Republic.
Text Question; How Much?
We await to receive the western union money transfer payment informations today or you can call my direct line on +229-985-821-19
Mr John Okey
Contact this Email :firstname.lastname@example.org
Forign operation manager