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. )
- "money gram" (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. )
- "trunk box" (they want you to be blinded by the prospect of quick money, but the only money that ever changes hands in 419 scams is from you to the criminals)
- "trunk boxes" (they want you to be blinded by the prospect of quick money, but the only money that ever changes hands in 419 scams is from you to the criminals)
- "united state of america" (this email uses bad English)
- "abuja" (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 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: "AMBASSADOR TERENCE MCCULLEY" (may be fake)
Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2012 11:04:09 -0800
Subject: GOOD NEWS!!!
UNITED STATE OF AMERICA AMBASSADOR TO NIGERIA,
11 GWARI GARIKI ROAD ABUJA
I SHALL BE COMING TO YOUR COUNTRY FOR AN OFFICIAL MEETING NEXT WEEK AND I WILL BE BRINGING YOUR FUNDS WORTH $6.5 MILLION USD ALONG WITH ME BUT THIS TIME YOUR DELIVERY WILL NOT PASS THROUGH CUSTOM CHECKS BECAUSE AS AM A US AMBASSADOR TO NIGERIA, I AM A US GOVERNMENT DIPLOMAT AND I HAVE THE VETO POWER TO PASS THROUGH CUSTOM SCRUTINY.AS SOON AS I AM THROUGH WITH THE MEETING I SHALL THEN PROCEED TO YOU ADDRESS. (SEND YOUR FULL INFORMATION WITH YOUR CELL PHONE NUMBER,THE ADDRESS WHERE YOU WANT ME TO DELIVER THE PACKAGE AS YOUR FUND WILL BE PACKAGED IN TRUNK BOXES AND REGISTERED THAT IT CONTAINS OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS ).
YOU MIGHT HAVE PAID SO MUCH FOR THIS DELIVERY,THAT MAKES ME WONDER WHY,WHEN YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO KNOW THE RIGHT PEOPLE TO CONTACT.YOU ARE A VERY LUCKY PERSON BECAUSE I SHALL BE BRINGING IT MYSELF AND THERE IS NOTHING ANYONE CAN DO ABOUT IT. YOUR PACKAGE ($6.5 MILLION USD) MUST BE REGISTERED AS AN AMBASSADORIAL PACKAGE FOR ME TO DEFEAT ALL ODDS AND THE COST OF REGISTERING IT AT THE IRS HEAD OFFICE IS $205.THE FEE MUST BE PAID IN THE NEXT TWO WORKING DAYS BEFORE DELIVERY.THIS FEE HAVE TO BE SENT VIA WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER SO THAT ALL NECESSARY ARRANGEMENT CAN BE MADE AND CONCLUDED BEFORE TIME WILL BE AGAINST YOU.
GET BACK TO ME WITH YOUR FULL INFORMATION AS SOON AS YOU RECEIVE THIS ELECTRONIC MESSAGE SO THAT I CAN SEND TO YOU THE INFORMATION ON WHICH YOU ARE TO SEND THE REGISTRATIOM FEE VIA WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER OR MONEY GRAM.
AS SOON AS YOU SEND THE FEE,YOU ALSO MAKE SURE YOU SEND THE PAYMENT INFORMATION.I EXPECT YOU TO COMPLY WITHIN THE TIME SCHEDULE BEFORE THEN SO THAT THE DELIVERY CAN BE COMPLETED.IF YOU DO NOT COMPLY,THEN IT WILL NOT BE MY FAULT IF YOU DO NOT RECEIVE YOUR PACKAGE.REPLY BACK VIA THIS EMAIL: ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
AMBASSADOR TERENCE P. MCCULLEY.
EMAIL CONTACT :( email@example.com )