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. )
- "hundred thousand 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)
- "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.
Fraud email example:
From: "Mr.William Peter" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 2011 17:44:37 +0100 (BST)
Subject: Payment Release Instruction From The Federal Bureau Of Investigation,
HOW ARE YOU AND YOUR FAMILY TODAY? HOPE FINE. I WONDER WHY COULD NOT REPLY TO MY SEVERAL EMAILS TO YOU, HOPE YOU ARE OK & ALRIGHT WITHOUT ANY PROBLEM???.
I PRAY & HOPE YOU ARE OK & ALSO, ONCS AGAIN I WANT TO INFORM YOU THAT WE HAVE GIVEN YOU ENOUGH TIME TO REPLY TO US WITH THE VIEW OF SENDING F.B.I BENIN REPUBLIC YOUR FUNDS RECOVERY FEE OF US$45.00 SO THAT WE CAN RELEASE YOUR FUNDS TO YOU WITHOUT ANY FURTHER DELAY & YOU WILL HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO COMMENCE SUCCESFULLY HAPPY IN LIFE . YOU WILL NOT PAY ANOTHER FEE FOR WHATSOEVER TO RECEIVE YOUR FUNDS AFTER YOU HAVE SENT THIS US$45.00 PLS. NOTE .
YOUR FUND IS REMAINING COMPLETELY INTACT & READY TO BE RELEASE TO YOU HENCE YOU HAVE SENT THIS US$45.00 TO THE F.B.I BENIN REPUBLIC. I EXPECT YOU TO SEND THE US$45.00 VIA WESTERN UNION TO F.B.I BENIN REPUBLIC IMMEDIATELY YOU RECEIVED THIS EMAIL TODAY SO THAT YOUR FUNDS WILL BE RELEASE TO YOU IMMEDIATELY .
TRY TO SEND THE US$45.00 AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE TODAY VIA WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER & ON THE BELOW STATED NAME TO ENABLE F.B.I BENIN REPUBLIC ACCOUNTANT OFFICER MR. PIUS AKWUOBI TO RECEIVE THE FEE OVER THERE IN BENIN REPUBLIC & PLEASE LET ME KNOW IMMEDIATELY YOU SEND THEUS$45.00 TODAY SO THAT WE CAN RELEASE YOUR EIGHT HUNDRED THOUSAND UNITED STATE DOLLARS (US$8,00.000.00 ) TO YOU .
EFFECT THE PAYMENT OF THE US$45.00 TO THE F.B.I IN REPUBLIC OF BENIN WITH THE INFORMATIONS STATED BELOW:
RECEIVE NAME...........MR.PIUS AKWUOBI
COUNTRY................... BENIN REPUBLIC
SEND THE US$45.00 TODAY, THEN EMAIL US THE WESTERN UNION MTCN INFORMATIONS SO THAT THEY CAN BE USE TO CASH THE MONEY OVER THERE IN BENIN REPUBLIC AS SOON AS YOU HAVE SENT THE US$45.00.
ITS VERY IMPERATIVE THAT WE CONCLUDE YOUR FUNDS RELEASE TO YOU NOW WE HAVE FOUND OUT YOU ARE SINCERE & YOU WIL NOT BE ARREST. WE ADVISE THAT YOU CONTACT US IMMEDIATELY WITH THE WESTERN UNION MTCN INFORMATION OF US$45.00 IF YOU STILL WISH TO RECEIVE YOUR FUND, OTHERWISE WE WILL CANCEL THE PAYMENT OF YOUR FUNDS TO YOU IMMEDIATELY & DECIDE ON THE NEXT STEP TO TAKE BY IVITING YOU FOR INVESTIGATION.
SEND THE US$45.00 IMMEDIATELY YOU RECEIVED THIS EMAIL & EMAIL ME THE MTCN CONTROL NUMBERS SO THAT YOUR FUND WILL BE RELEASE TO YOU WITHOUT ANY FURTHER DELAY.
EMAIL BACK TO CONFIRM TO US THAT YOU HAVE RECEIVED THIS EMAIL THROUGH BELOW EMAIL ADDRESS: