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:
- "from the desk of" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "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. )
- "you are advice to " (this email uses bad English)
- "inland revenue" (Tax offices mentioned in 419 scams are always fake. Even after you pay their fake tax demands you will still not receive the non-existent funds you have been promised. )
- "cotonou" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- "email@example.com" (this email address has been used in a known scam)
- "firstname.lastname@example.org" (this email address has been used in a known scam)
- "email@example.com" (this email address has been used in a known scam)
- 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 MONEY TRANSFER <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sun, 21 Aug 2011 02:10:23 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: YOUR IMMEDIATE UPDATE IS NEEDED
FROM THE DESK OF THE DIRECTOR
UNION MONEY TRANSFER
COTONOU, REPUBLIC OF BENIN.
CUSTOMER CARE: email@example.com
DEAR VALUED CUSTOMER,
MANAGEMENT OF WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER HAS DECIDED TO SUBMIT YOUR
INFORMATION TO THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION FOR URGENT ASSIST ON
THE TRANSFER. FOR THE PAST ONE WEEK THE PAYMENT WE MADE ON YOUR NAME IS
STILL WAITING, WE HAVE MADE TWO PAYMENT ON YOUR NAME BOTH THE
INFORMATION WERE SUCH AS MTCN/SENDERâS NAME /SECRET QUESTION AND ANSWER.
WE ARE VERY UPSET ON THE THIS TRANSFER BECAUSE IT HAS TAKEN MUCH TIME.
WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO RECEIVE REQUIRED $58 FROM YOUÂ FOR THE
ALLOCATION CODES BEFORE WE RELEASE THE PAYMENT TO YOU.
FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THIS EMAILS ALL YOUR DATA WILL BE SUBMIT TO THE
US FBI THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ORDER 556-73 ESTABLISHES
RULES AND REGULATIONS FOR THE SUBJECT OF AN FBI IDENTIFICATION RECORD TO
OBTAIN A COPY OF HIS OR HER OWN RECORD FOR REVIEW. THE FBIâS CRIMINAL
JUSTICE INFORMATION SERVICES (CJIS) DIVISION PROCESSES THESE REQUESTS. Â
THEN THEY WILL HANDLE THE ISSUE BY THEIR POWER AUTHORITY BECAUSE YOUR
FUNDS HAS BEING HERE FOR MORE THAN 6 MONTHS AND A LOT OF IDIOTS ON THE
INTERNET ARE USING OUR OFFICE AND NAME OF OUR MANAGEMENT TO RIP PEOPLE
OFF. THIS WAS THE REASON WHYÂ FBI AUTHORIZE US TO CLEAR ALL OUR
INTERNATIONAL TRANSFER OR WE SUBMIT IT TO THEM FOR THE PERFECT VISIT TO
HE/HER TO AVOID RIPPING OFF THE GOOD CITIZEN OF AMERICA IN THE NAME OFÂ
WESTERN UNION OFFICE. THE REPORT HAS ALSO BEEN TAKEN WESTERN UNION HEAD
OFFICE UNITED KINGDOM AND WAS ADVICE TO NOTIFIED FOR YOUR URGENT PAYMENT
OR WE HAND YOUR INFORMATION OVER TO THE US FBI. YOU ARE ADVICE TO GET
BACK TO US THE REQUESTED FEE TO OBTAIN THE CLEARANCE PAPER FROM THE
INLAND REVENUE OFFICE BENIN AND YOUR PAYMENT INFORMATION WILL BE RELEASE
TO YOU FOR TO START PICKING YOUR FUNDS.
URGENT RESPONSE WITH THE FEE THROUGH THE NAME OF ACCOUNTANT OFFICER ON THE DESK MR.JOSEPH ITEMBA
EMAIL US @ firstname.lastname@example.org
DISPATCHED THIS DAY. FOR
INQUIRY, CALL Â +229-98679345Â
Head Office Benin