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. )
- "you are advice to " (this email uses bad English)
- "cotonou" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- "firstname.lastname@example.org" (this email address has been used in a known scam)
- 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 (Yahoo; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: "Mr.Eric Morgan" (may be fake)
Date: Tue, 1 May 2012 16:55:21 -0400
The below payment has been awarded to you by the Benin Republic Government with the support of
WorldBank to compensate you on the past experience you had with the Benin Republic scammers.
I write to inform you that we have already sent you $5,000.00 through Western Union as we have
been given the mandate to transfer your full compensation payment total sum of $1.5 million usd
viaWestern Union by the Government.
I have the authority to email you the MTCN and sender's details to enable you pick up the first
$5,000.00,USD and confirm receipt to us so as to enable us wire the next USD5,000.00 by tomorrow
and subsequent ones since we can only send USD$5,000.00 per day take note that you are to send to
us only the transfer charge which is 105 USD with this below reciever information to avoid any
RECEIVER'S NAME....ANUKWU RAPHAEL
AMOUNT NEEDED.....$105 USD
Please pick up this information below and go to any western union payment office in your country
and pick up the $5,000.00 as soon as this transfer charges is sent with the reciever info and
email the Western Union outlets in charge of the payment so that they could send you another
Western Union contact information:
Manager: Dr.Paul Ben
Email us once you picked up the $10,000.00 today, if there is any
problem with them paying you make sure to contact this Western outlet
with the information given to you above.
Please you are advice to fill the form bellow to enable easy recognition.
Direct Telephone Number.............
Below is the western union information for pick up your payment but due to the transfer charges
of $105 usd have not been sent by you it will be difficult for you to pick it up untill you send
them the transfer charge fee of $105 usd and make sure as soon as you send it call the director
incharge of your payment with the phone contact below for the mtcn.
Sender's Name:UDE EDWIN
We shall be expecting your call once you pick up $10,000.00
Yours in Service,