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:
- "cotonou" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- "cheque " (Beware of any scheme that involves cashing checks or money orders and then wiring a portion of the funds somewhere - you'll be liable for the entire amount if the checks or money orders turn out to be fake, even after you have received and forwarded cash. If it's a lottery prize, remember that real lotteries do not pay large prizes by check. They wire the money directly to your bank account and you do not pay for that. Many scammers promise a large check only in order to then demand payment of courier fees for a fake courier service. )
- 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 (Yahoo, Hong Kong; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: "MR.TONY OBINNA" <email@example.com>
Date: Sun, 19 Feb 2012 21:43:34 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: LET ME KNOW WHEN YOU HAVE RECEIVED YOUR FUND.
HOW ARE YOU MY GOOD FRIEND.
THIS IS TO INFORM YOU THAT I HAVE DEPOSITED YOUR CHEQUE WITH CONTINENTAL BANK INTERNATIONAL OF BENIN FOR EASILY WIRE TRANSFER.
THE DIRECTOR OF THE BANK DEMANDS THAT YOU WRITE AN APPLICATION FOR THE RELEASED OF YOUR FUND. SO KINDLY WRITE APPLICATIONS TO THE CONTINENTAL BANK AS SOON AS YOU RECEIVE THIS EMAIL TO ENABLE THEM GIVE YOU THEIR FORM TO FILL WITH YOUR INFORMATON WHERE THE BANK CAN TRANSFER YOUR FUND.
THE INFORMATION MUST BE COMPLETE SO THAT THEY CAN WIRE YOUR FUND TO YOUR BANK ACCOUNT WITHOUT ANY FURTHER BELOW IS HOW YOU ARE GOING TO WRITE THE APPLICATIONS TO THEM.
THE NAME OF THE DIRECTOR IS: DR. VICTOR GODWIN,
EMAIL CONTACT IS (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Director of Operations Foreign
Remittance Division CONTINENTAL
BANK COTONOU, BENIN REPUBLIC.
SIR, I AM WRITING THIS APPLICATION FOR THE TRANSFER OF MY FUND IN YOUR BANK (US$ 10. 5 MILLION) TEN MILLION, FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND UNITED STATES- DOLLARS ONLY) WHICH IS IN MY BANK DRAFT TO MY ACCOUNT.
PLEEASE BE INFORM THAT I WANT YOUR BANK TO CONVERT MY BANK DRAFT SUM OF US$ 10. 5 MILLION THAT WAS DEPOSITED IN YOUR BANK BY MY PARTNER MR.TONY AGU WITH ORDER TO TRANSFER MY FUND TO ANY ACCOUNT NUMBER I WILL PROVIDE TO YOU ONCE YOU ANSWER TO MY MAIL.
SO CONTACT THE BANK AS SOON AS YOU RECEIVE THIS EMAIL OR CALL Mr John Hudson. DIRECT 00229-67369461. TO ENABLE THEM WIRED YOUR FUND TO YOU IMMEDIATELY, YOU CAN ALSO TELL THE BANK TO CREDIT YOUR FUND INTO ATM MASTER CARD IF YOU DO NOT WANT A DIRECT WIRE TRANSFER OR TELL THEM TO USE THEIR ONLINE TRANSFER IF YOU WISH.
LET ME KNOW WHEN YOU HAVE RECEIVED YOUR FUND.
I HAVE DEPOSITED YOUR CHEQUE WITH CONTINENTAL BANK INTERNATIONAL OF BENIN FOR EASILY WIRE TRANSFER.