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:
- "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. )
- "united state dollar" (this email uses bad English)
- 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: "Mr.James Steve" <email@example.com>
Date: Mon, 27 Aug 2012 19:47:33 +0100 (BST)
Subject: CONTACT WESTERN UNIONFOR YOUR PAYMENT
Hello My dear, how are you today hope you are fine?
I write to inform you that we have already sent you $5,200.00. United State Dollars through Western union as we have been given the mandate to transfer your full compensation payment the total sum of $950.000.00 ( Nine Hundred and Fifty Thousand United State Dollars) via western union by this Government.
I was been trying to send you an E-mail since yesterday for the Western Union payment Details but the message keep returning back I don't really know why, therefore I try to re-send the e-mail to you again today with all the Western Union payment information for you to pick up the money from any outlet Western Union around you, such as MTCN and Sender Name so that you will pick up this $5,200.00. United State Dollars to enable us send another $5,200.00. tomorrow as you know we will be sending you only $5,200.00 United State Dollars per day.
Please copy all this information and run to any nearest Western Union to pick up the $5,200.00. and call me back to send you another payment tomorrow,
My direct phone line is +229 99724477, Manager: Dr. Promise Anthony. E-mail: (( firstname.lastname@example.org )) call or email me once you picked up this $5,200.00. United State Dollars today.
Here is the Western Union information to pick up the $5,200.00. United State Dollars.
MTCN :___________# 479-414-9760
Sender's Name:______ Peter Oba
Amount:______________________ $5,200.00. United State Dollars
I am waiting for your call once you pick up this $5,200.00. Please E-mail me your direct telephone number because I need to be calling you once we send any payment for the information. Note we really need your current direct phone so that once we make any payment we shall call you for the MTCN.
Yours In Service
ECO Bank Benin Republic