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. )
- "federal republic of benin" (Benin, Cameroon, etc. are no Federal Republics, unlike Nigeria where this type of scam was invented)
- 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.
Fraud email example:
From: MRSOM WILLIAMS <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 7 Mar 2012 13:37:42 +0000
Subject: FROM OUTLAW CUSTOMS SERVICE BENIN DE REPUBLIC
FROM OUTLAW CUSTOMS SERVICE BENIN DE REPUBLIC
THIS IS TO INFORM YOU ABOUT YOUR PACKAGE THAT IS HERE AT OUR OFFICE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT BENIN REPUBLIC,
PACKAGE IS HERE A DAY NOW AND WE ARE GIVEN YOU 7 WORKING DAYS FOR YOU
TO GET YOUR CERTIFICATE OF BILL RECORDING FOR DELIVERY, WHICH WILL COST
YOU THE SUM OF $55.00 DOLLARS ONLY, WE NEED IT AT THIS OFFICE BEFORE THIS WORKING DAYS OR YOUR PACKAGE WILL BE SEIZED AND YOU WILL LOOSE THE PACKAGE, NO PACKAGE LEAVES THIS AIRPORT WITH OUT CUSTOMS CERTIFICATE OF BILL RECORDING, WE NEED YOUR URGENT ATTENTION BEFORE THIS 7 WORKING DAYS FOR YOUR PACKAGE TO LEAVE HERE TO YOUR LOCATION, NOW CONTACT OUR PAYMENT CENTER WITH THE PAYMENT OF $55.00 USD
THIS IS THE INFORMATION YOU CAN USE TO SEND THE MONEY DOWN THROUGH WESTERN UNION: RECEIVER NAME........MR SAMUEL OZOEMENE
COUNTRY BENIN REPUBLIC.TEST QUESTION ............. URGENT ANSWER ......NEEDEDAMOUNT IS...... $55.00 USA DOLLARSMTCN...........................SENDER NAME.............. YOUR ADVISE TO FORWARD THE MTCN NUMBER IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE PAYMENT MR.SOM WILLIAMSDIRECTOR GENERAL CUSTOMS SERVICESFEDERAL REPUBLIC OF BENIN WEST AFRICATELEPHONE-----+229-99481902