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. )
- "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: "Mr. John Addey" (may be fake)
Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2012 08:08:43 +0100
Subject: PICK UP YOUR $5000 WITH THIS MTCN 0279698444
Attention Beneficiary $4.5 Million USA Dollars,
We the IMF Benin have agreed that your compensation $4.5 Million USA Dollars will be transfer to you through Western Union daily $5000 till you get your $4.5M USD Completed.
We have already sent $5000 to you today which the information is below and you can track it through our website to see that the money is ready to pick up by your name.
Sent by: John Addey
Amount sent: $5000
Test Question: In God?
Answer: We Trust
So contact Mr. Peter Moore with this information below to pick up your first payment.
Mr. Peter Moore
Phone: +229 98257795
E-mail: ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Note that you will pay them only $95 for Clearance of your fund from IMF before they can release your $5000. So go to any Western Union office near you and send them $95 for the Clearance of your fund from Benin IMF with this information below.
RECEIVER NAME--- --LAWRENCE OKOYE
COUNTRY---- ------BENIN REPUBLIC
QUESTION----- -HOW MUCH
ANSWER----- ----95 DOLLARS
We would have deducted the money from your fund but due to your fund is under security account we can not be able to deduct the fund from your total fund and also be advice that as soon as you send the money with this information above, you will pick up your money immediately.
Mr. John Addey.