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. )
- ",000,000" (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)
- "00,000.00" (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.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: Western Union Money Transfer <email@example.com>
Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2012 19:18:05 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: Attention: E-mail Address Owner
Welcome to Western Union
Send Money Worldwide
Attention: E-mail Address Owner
RE: 2001 - 2012 SCAM VICTIM'S COMPENSATION FROM THE I.M.F BENIN
Complement of the season to you and your beloved family. The International
Monetary Fund (IMF) is compensating all the recent scam victims and your
email address was found in the scam victim's list. This Western Union
office has been mandated by the IMF to transfer your compensation to you
via Western Union Money Transfer.
However, we have successfully concluded all the arrangements to effect
your payment through Western Union Money Transfer. We have scheduled your
payment to be completed by sending you $5,000 twice daily until the total
sum of $1,000,000.00 is completely transferred to you.
Notwithstanding, we can not be able to send the payment with your email
address alone, thereby we need your information as to where we will be
sending the funds, such as;
Receiver's name:................(Full Name)
Contact the director via email at (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your
Note that your payment files will be returned to the IMF if we did not
hear from you, this was the instruction given to us by the IMF. We will
start the transfer as soon as we received your information. For urgent
inquiry about your daily payment, call the director on +229-9875-6677
Mr. Mark James
Director Western Union Money Transfer,
Head Office Benin Republic.
This email is intended for the owner of this E-mail Address only and
contains privileged and confidential information. If you received this
email by error, please delete it from your mail box and notify us
immediately for correction. The disclosure of this email to a third party
is highly prohibited. Thanks for your understanding.