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:
- "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. )
- "tax fee" (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. )
- 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 (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: "MR. COLIN WILLIAMS" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2012 15:23:46 -0800
I'm secretary to Mr. Colin Williams, I'm writing to inform you about your compensation fund $1.8 Million, us dollar that my boss issued on your name before he traveled out for his business purpose. Before he travels out he instructed me to send you the total money through Western Union Money Transfer because it will be less expensive and reliable for you to be receiving your daily $5000 dollar until you receive your total money completely.
Meanwhile, the manager stated yesterday that the administrator trust funds has already signed and approved your payment, which you will receive first payment of $5000.00 Us Dollars daily immediately you send their Vat/Tax Fee of $75 only and it will serve as confirmation of your file payment from the office in charge.
So contact them with information below for your payment.
Vital Finance Bank Western Union Department.
Location Address; Plot 1261, Adeola Hopewell Street CO/B/REP,
Contact Person: Mr. Chris Mike.
Telephone Number: +229 9987 6902
Email Address: (email@example.com)
Be advise to send the $75 for the Vat/Tax of the fund because it's compulsory as they told me that you have to pay the fee until you start receiving your payment and I also I want to re-confirm your personal information below to avoid any hitches in receiving your full payments.
This is what they need from you as a Receiver'
Your Full Name:_______________
Do remember to keep me posted once you receive your payment completely and make sure you comply with them to serve you better.
Mr. Colin Williams.