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:
- "dear friend" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "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. )
- "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.
Fraud email example:
From: Western Union Money Transfer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, 10 Sep 2011 14:24:28 +0530 (IST)
Subject: URGENT NOTIFICATION
FROM THE DESK OF THE DIRECTOR
UNION MONEY TRANSFER
COTONOU, REPUBLIC OF BENIN.
CUSTOMER CARE: email@example.com
MY DEAR FRIEND,
Do you want
to lose your funds???? If not do get back to us as soon as possible, the
management of western union money transfer were protecting your interest over
your fundsÂ for long butÂ now the international monetary funds were about to
divert your funds into its property for delay. As matter of urgent we need to
hear from you immediately with balance of $79 as my wife has helped with rest.
Email us @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Name== Chinedu Iwunor
Country== Cotonou, Benin Republic.
Answer==Â We trust
Amount Only= $79
Note:DO KEEP US
UPDATE ONCE YOU RECEIVE THIS EMAIL.Â Â
Head Office Benin