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. )
- "million dollars" (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)
- "attorneys " (Barristers (lawyers) mentioned in 419 scams are always fake.)
- "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.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: "Albert Caruana" <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, 07 Jul 2012 22:43:31 +0300
Subject: you payment is ready to pick up/
The Management Of Western Union Department have acknowledge the good
receipt of your email with your personal information in regards to the
immediate release of your fund sum of $1.5 million dollars only which
we was instructed by the Minister Administrator Trust Fund Committee
To Transfer to you through this medium of western union money transfer,
However; you should be informed that the Management/Board Members Of
This Western Union has resolved to release your first installment
payment of $5,000.00 usd which sent this morning with this transfer
Mtcn no#: ???..9261341221
Sender name???.. Joseph Ude
Text question:?..What Color
Amount sent ???.5,000 usd
The payment is available for pick up by receiver destination today:
To confirm your payment online please visit our website
But note that you shall required to come down here to sign the fund
release order documentation before you will be allow to pick up the
$5,000.00 usd from our correspondent western union office in your
But if due to circumstances that you cannot afford to appear
physically here to sign the fund release order documentation, this
office will grant you a plan to engage in the services of our
financial accredited resident attorneys appointed for this transfer to
sign the paper on your behalf so that you will be able to pick up your
first $5,000.00 in your country today because this transaction
required a very serious legal document and it must be implemented
before we shall carry out the release of your fund today,
Note; if you cannot afford to come down here to sign the documents by
your self then you shall required to pay sum of 98.usd for the
attorney consultation charges and the payment should send to the below
information so as to ensure the immediate release of your 5,000 usd
today being 7th july 2012,
Here is the information where to send the attorney consultation charges,
Reciver?s name / Paul Chidozie
Country / Benin
City / Cotonou
Test Question / What Color
Answer / Blue
Amount / $95. Usd
Kindly follow our instruction because it's our reputation to serve you
better, and get back to us with the Western Union MTCN number.....
Thanks, i await your prompt respond
Dr. Albert Caruana, Managing Director Western Union Department
Tel: +229 99 211 482
This message was sent using IMP, the Internet Messaging Program.