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:
- 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. )
- "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. )
- "dear beneficiary," (this SPAM email was probably sent to thousands of people)
- "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.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: =?iso-8859-1?Q?Western_Union=AE?= <email@example.com>
Date: Thu, 4 Aug 2011 23:25:54 +0530 (IST)
Subject: Welcome to Western Union
Welcome to Western
WESTERN UNION HEAD OFFICE
FOREGN CONTRACTOR PAYMENT OFFICE
Atten; Dear Beneficiary,
Good day my dear, How are you and
your family today? I am really confused here right now that our government is
now trying to cancel all the payment file in our custody,
Why all this delay by sending this remaining balance of
$69.00? The government is now out to start cancel all those payment file which
the owner is not ready yet to receive it, Are you sure that you are really
BENEFICIARY? or you are trying to claim the USD$2.5Million on behalf of the
Any way. The ( Imf Office ) Director General said that every
beneficiary have only today and tomorrow to pay the fee according to the
information i receive this morning from ( IMF OFFICE) so please to avoid you
blame any one here if you loose the Fund because $69.00 cannot make you to loose
your Fund which you know the total amount you about to
I prayer that God will make a way for you to raise the money
today and tomorrow if you believe me and my words because God almight father is
my withness and only him knows what i be doing since to make sure that your
start receiving your fund $5000 every day before the date to avoid our
government to cancel it. I swear let God judge me if i am lie to
Here is the informations to send the remaning $69.00 through
western union below:
Receiver: Dr.Miracle Nwekwu
Test Ques: IN GOD
Test Ans: WE TRUST
The amount you have to send now is $69.00 but please make sure
that you will return my $250.00 back once you withdraw first money from the
Western Union because only God knows the reason that make me to do this help and
to avoid you to blame me if our government cancel your payment File.
back to me once you receive this massage because i will like to know the reason
that makeing you to keep queit since. Or if you don't care about this Fund
anymore. just let me know so that I will watch off my hands.
expecting you with western union payment infotmations so that your transfer will
commence immediately without further delay because i believe that we will
conclude this transaction successful.
Meanwhile be a honest person to
me like i am because you know that i use God,s name swear because of this fund
and also to let you know that i am not lie to you.
I am waiting for the MTCN.
Welcome to Western Union
GOD HAS HELP YOU TODAY GOD IS ABLE!!!!