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.
Click here to report a problem with this page.
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. )
- "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. )
- "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.
- 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: "MRS.STELLA WILLIAMS" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sun, 1 Jul 2012 18:20:32 +0100 (BST)
Subject: WESTERN UNION HEAD OFFICE DEPARTMENT REPUBLIC OF BENIN.
ATTN: OUR ESTEEM
CONGRATULATIONS THAT I BORROWED
$255.00 YESTERDAY FROM MY PASTOR IN THE CHURCH. THEN AMOUNT YOU HAVE TO SEND NOW
IS ONLY $73.00 BUT I DON'T SEE THE REASONÂ
YOU HAVE TO KEEP SILENT ON ME, IS IT BECAUSE OF THE MONEY? ANY WAY THEIR
IS GOOD NEWS THAT I RAISE SOME MONEY TO USE HELP YOU OUT AND MAKE SURE THAT YOUR
PAYMENT WILL BE RELEASE TO YOU WITHIN 3HOURS AFTER YOU SEND THE REMANING $73.00
AS I WANT IT.
I KNOW IT IS BECAUSE OF YOUR PAST
EXPERIENCE THAT MAKE YOU NOT TO BELIEVE ME BUT I TOLD YOU BEFORE MY GOD WHO IS
MY WITTINESS THAT I CANNOT DECEIVE YOU BECAUSE MY BIBLE SAYS WHAT SHALL IT
PROFIT A MAN TO GAIN MATERIAL THINGS AND LOOSE YOUR SOUL. I TOLD YOU EARLIER
JUST DROP YOUR OLD EXPERIENCE AND FOLLOW MY INSTRUCTION A MAN OF GOD AND YOU
WILL KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO FOLLOW SOMEBODY THAT FEAR
HONESTLY I AM JUST DISAPPOINTED AT
YOUR BEHAVIORS BEFORE BECAUSE YOU KNOW THAT I AM MAN OF GOD AND CANNOT DECEIVE
YOU. JUST PAY THE $73.00 AND LEAVE ME AND MY GOD BECAUSE GOD IS WATCHING ME IF I
AM TELLING YOU LIES. YOU TOO PAYMENT IS ALREADY APPROVAL TODAY FOR YOU TO
RECEIVE IT BUT THE MANAGEMENT HERE SAYS THAT YOU MUST PAY $73.00 FOR THE SECOND
PAYMENT TRANSFER CHARGE BEFORE YOU CAN RECEIVE THE PAYMENT TODAY. AFTER TRACKING
THE PAYMENT PLEASE SEND THE CHARGE THROUGH WESTERN
UNION IMMEDIATELY. BELOW;
I SWEAR TO GOD ALMIGHTY FATHER. IF I
FAIL TO RELEASE YOUR TOO PAYMENT WITHIN 3HOURS AFTER YOU SEND THE $73.00 AS I
PROMISE LET GOD TAKE MY LIFE, I CANNOT FAIL YOU, I PROMISE YOU. DONâT FEAR AS
SOON AS YOU SENT THE $73.00 TODAY PLEASE LEAVE THE REST TO ME AND SEE IF I AM
LIE TO YOU OR NOT BECAUSE I CAN NOT USE MY LIFE SWEAR BECAUSE OF $73.00 HOW CAN
I SWEAR AGAINST MY LIFE BECAUSE OF THIS SMALL AMOUNT, IT IS TO SHOW YOU THAT I
AM TELLING YOU THE TRUTH?
HERE IS THE INFORMATIONS TO SEND THE
MONEY TO WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER
2. COUNTRY===BENIN REPUBLIC/
I AM WAITING TO HEAR FROM YOU WITH
THE PAYMENT DETAIL WITH THIS E-MAILL ADDRSS ::( email@example.com))
WESTERN UNIONÂ HEAD OFFICE
REPUBLIC OF BENIN.
FOREGN CONTRACTOR PAYMENT
THIS IS OUR CONDUCT CODE (