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:
- "dear friend" (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. )
- "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.
- email@example.com (Yahoo; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: WESTERN UNION BENIN <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 11 Oct 2011 12:24:17 +0800 (SGT)
Subject: THIS IS YOUR FIRST PAYMENT AMOUNT $2,000 US DOLLARS ONLY
Â Attn, Dear Friend:
This Message Is From The Western Union To The Owner Of This E-mail, How Are You Today, I Write To Inform You That We Have Already Sent You USD2000.00 Dollars Through Western Union As We Have Been Given The Mandate To Transfer Your Full Compensation Payment Total Sum Of US $600 000.00, Via Western Union As Instructed By Our Government.
I Was Calling Your Telephone Number To Give You The Information Through Phone But You Did Not Pick Up My Calls Throughout That Yesterday Even This Morning. Now I Decided To Email You The MTCN And Sender's Name So That You Will Pick Up ThisUSD2000.00 To Enable Us Send Another Today As You Know We Will Be Sending You Only USD2000.00 Per Daily.
Please Run to Western Union to Pick up The USD2000.00 And Call Me Back to Send You another Payment Today,
Direct Phone Line Is: +229-9950-1274,
Â Manager Dr Frank Mandela
Â Email: (email@example.com)
Call Or Email Me Once You Picked Up This USD2000.00. Here Is the Western Union Information to Pick up the Money:
SENDERâS FIRST NAME: AUGUSTINE
SENDERâS LAST NAME: EKENE
TEST QUESTION: A-B
AMOUNT...$2,000 US DOLLARS ONLY. (FIRST PAYMENT)
I am Waiting for Your Call Once You Pick ups the Money.
MEANWHILE YOU ARE REQUIRE TO SEND US THE TRANSFERING FEE WHICH IS $109 USD FOR THE WHOLE TRANSFER CHARGES, THAT WE HAVE ALREADY REMITTED TO YOUR NAME, SO WITHOUT THE TRANSFER FEE YOU CAN NOT PICK THE MONEY FOR IT'S ON HOLD AND THE MTCN CANNOT BE RELEASED TO YOU UNTILL YOU SEND THE TRANSFER FEE, THAT IS AN INSTRUNCTION FROM THE FEDERAL MINISTERY OF FINANCE (FMF).Please Email Me Your Direct Telephone Number Because I Need To Be Calling You Once We Send Any Payment For These
HERE IS THE INFORMATION THAT YOU WILL USE TO SEND THE CHARGE SO THAT YOUR FIRST PAYMENT WILL BE RELEASE TO YOU FOR ANOTHER TO BE SENT IMMEDIATELY.
Receive Name: Nze Chinaka
Country: Benin Republic
Text Q: How Long?
Be advice that $109 renewing file is compulsory as they told me that is the only money you will pay until you receive your payment completely. Endeavor to E-mail your direct telephone number because you will call once the payment informationâs is sent to you.
MRS. IJEOMA WILLIAM
Federal western union Benin Republic