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. )
- "barrister" (Barristers (lawyers) mentioned in 419 scams are always fake.)
- "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.
- Barristers (lawyers) mentioned in 419 scams are always fake.
- 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 (Gmail/GoogleMail; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: Barrister Brown Young <email@example.com>
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2011 01:25:08 +0800 (SGT)
Subject: Beneficiary. Esteemed-
This is to notify you about the latest development concerning your payments total sum of $4, 800, 000, 00, which deposited into western union headquarter payment department office custody today, beside, this is the opportunity for you to comply and have your funds starting releasing to your designated address without any further delay, sequel to my point that I want to use this below underline message to point out brief important terms of our service.
Further more, you need to send total sum of $57, 00, right now to use it pursuing your MTCN, because, all the documents paper concerning your fund have been approved today by Federal Ministry of Justice Court Order, Therefore, I need your utmost support and understanding to actualize this dream, After the payment sum of $57.00,send, you will starting receiving your payment from any western union office around your corner.
Further notice, the maximum amount which you should be receiving for each MTCN is $6, 500, 00, more notification, you needed to fill reference form, avoid releasing the MTCN into the wrong hands, we have registered all the MTCN , which you would going to use withdrawing your fund.
Your Full Name____
Your Full Address____
Send the $57 by western union Money Transfer with the information below,
Receiver's name_____Nwaeze Benson
Text Question______My Best Color
The moment we receive the payment of $57, 00, we will starting forward the MTCN for you to be picking up your fund, we are hereby looking forward to hear from you soonest.
I wish you good luck.
Yours in service
Barrister Brown Young
E-MAIL ( firstname.lastname@example.org)