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:
- "moneygram" (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. )
- "await your urgent response" (scammers rush victims so they don't have time to think properly)
- "cotonou" (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.
- MoneyGram money transfer is completely untraceable and therefore is *not* safe to use with anyone you do not know personally. Along with Western Union it is a 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 AGU THOMAS <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sun, 1 Jul 2012 06:58:59 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: YOUR PAYMENT IS IN MONEY GRAM OFFICE NOW,
MONEY GRAM REMITTANCE DEPARTMENT.
178 AVENUE PAPE JEAN PAUL II,
01 B.P. 2020, COTONOU REPUBLIC DU BENIN
Telephone :+229 6845-1405: Fax : + 229 93099185
email adress (email@example.com)
Payment Hotline :+229-6845-1405
Dear Esteemed Beneficiary
I am writing to officially inform you that you have a sum of $,900.000.00USD
lodged in our Money Gram headquarter awaiting to be transfer to
you, this mandate and payment advice was given to us by United Nation
Compensation Committee as a grand compensation to every due unpaid foreign
beneficiaries as shortlisted in our last payment quarter Payment Schedule.
The UNCC have instructed us to be sending to you a daily installment
transfer of $5,000.00 USD - Five Thousand USD Dollars or its equivalent in
your local currency every day .
We have transferred your first installment payment this morning for your
pick-up at any Money Gram outlet near you. Your first payment is
available for pick up NOW. All you require is your Electronic Foreign
Transfer PIN (EFTP). This is to ensure your payment is safe and not
intercepted in anywhere and it will cost you the sum of $105.00.
You are required to reconfirm Your Name, Address, Phone Number for us to
post your funds to you. Do call: Tel Phone :+229-6845-1405 or email me on
(firstname.lastname@example.org) so that I can direct you on how
to send the money.
You will receive further transfer instructions upon your prompt response.
I await your urgent
MR AGU THOMAS
DIRECTOR GENERAL MONEY GRAM,