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:
- An email address listed inside this email has been used in a known fraud before.
- 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:
- "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.
- 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 (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: "Mr. John Francis Pikus" (may be fake)
Date: Fri, 16 Dec 2011 05:05:55 -0800
Subject: Special Agent in Charge
Special Agent in Charge
Mr. John Francis Pikus
Direct line +229-644 846 62
We have been watching every single transaction you made since last year until this 2011 and you have to know that we are also working to make sure your funds which are suppose to be delivered to you, and also bearing mind that what ever you emailing us will be forward to the court. Also we are hereby to notify by the federal bureau of investigation Cotonou department of the insult you imposed on them by failing to comply by their requirements. Your full residential address has been forwarded to us for your immediate arrest to face your charge but I deemed it fit to give you one more chance to save yourself from this mess.
We have been told that you have failed to dance by the rule of the FBI which will warrant 2 years jail sentence. Now I john Francis Pikus the special agent in charge of the FBI Albany department I am giving you 24working hours to effect the payment of the $185.00 usd. To the FBI in republic of Benin (fbisecurity) with the information written below:
Receiver: James Nwabunwanne
Country: Benin Republic
Test Q: warning?
You have to try as much as you can and make this payment so that your funds will be delivered immediately to your destination. You have to stop every transaction you are communicating with other organization to avoid delay on the processing of your funds.
Note that you? if you fail to stick with my advice or any delay will lead to us coming directly to your home address at any time, so try and dance by the rule and get back to me with good understanding ASAP.
Mr. John Francis Pikus.