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:
- 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. )
- "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 (Hotmail; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: "Mr.Jerry Morris" <email@example.com>
Date: Fri, 11 Jan 2013 18:39:24 +0800 (CST)
Subject: FROM OFFICE OF THE WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER.
This compensation is
for all the scam victims past years,from 2001-
2012,from (I.M.F) according to
them,they said that your e-mail address was
found as one of those that pass
through scame victims,and your own fund
was deposited in our office here in
Nigeria to transfer to you through
western union money transfer.
We have concluded to effect your payment via Western Union
Transfer,$5,000 twice daily until the total sum of $2,700,000.00USD
Million which we
were mandated by the IMF to transfer to you is completely
We now need your information as to where we will be sending the
payment to you such as; Receivers name (Your full information),
name,address, phone number,and country.
payment as been sent to you,we sent it with your e-mail
address,so we are
advise you to go and pick it up,in any Western union
around your city,but try
comply back with full information,because we can
not send your second payment
through e-mail address again,for your
information Contact us @ officerl
the information which you will use to pick up your frist payment
$5000.00,again try to given us call once you pick upthe funds so we can
you another $5000.00.
Sender's Name:......... william
MTCN:........... 977 4770 040
Am waiting to hear from
you as soon as possible so that we can finalize
PERSON: James Mark
Direct phone line is +229 9878