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:
- 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:
- "dear friend" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "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. )
- "hundred thousand united states 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)
- 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: "MR.Philip George" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2012 01:50:19 +0800 (SGT)
Subject: Dear Friend,
I want to thank you for helping me out in that last transaction which went successful, However, I am now in australia where I am now investing my own share of the fund, Please I am giving this token as I promised to compensate you after everything, please accept this One Million Eight hundred Thousand United States Dollars ($1.8M) as a token from my heart. Prior to this, I have told my personal secretary to transfer the US$1.8M to you through Western Union Money transfer as soon you contact her with your information to avoid wrong transfer, meanwhile the below is the first US$5000.00 payment information availbale for pick up .
Here is the western union information to pick up the US$5000.00;
SENDER'S FIRST NAME: James
SENDER'S LAST NAME: Brown
Track it now on http://www.westernunion.com/ I told her to keep sending you
$5000.00 daily until the payment of $1,800.000.00 is completed. Do not
forget to furnish her with the below data;
1. Your full Names:...................
2. Your current cell phone Number:..............
3. Your City: ..........................
4. Your: Country:.... ....................
5. Your Current Age and Occupation:. ........
Please,contact Mrs Vivian William if there is any problem with the MTCN and belowemailaddress (email@example.com) or reach Her on phone call.+229 98991056. Please contact her now, so that she will send you another one today if You have a problem with the MTCN or the sender Name try to reach her on call or email her so that she will correct it for you.
Thank you very much,