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. )
- "million us 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)
- "you are advice to " (this email uses bad English)
- "email@example.com" (this email address has been used in a known scam)
- 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.
Fraud email example:
From: Dominic Dredge <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2013 19:23:41 +0800 (CST)
Subject: Western Union Transfer.
is our pleasure to reach you with this good news, we the Western Union
Department Benin Republic wants to use this opportunity to inform you
about your abandon fund total amount of $1.5Million US Dollars. We write
to know if you are still willing to receive your payment through this
office because the IMF and FMF has instructed us to release all the
abandon funds in our Custody
before going for the holiday that is coming close.
The IMF and
FMF, has instructed us to confiscate all unclaimed fund after passing
this message to all our customers that is involved in this matter. Mind
you that after 4working days if we did not hear back from you as
instructed your total fund will be confiscated to Government (Account)
therefore you are advice to respond back immediately you receive this
message with the information required below to enable us proceed
immediately with the release of your daily payment of $20,000, $5,000
per a transfer.
Your full Name
Address/Direct Phone Number
Scan Copy of any Identity Card.
that we have only 75working days to clear up the transfer of your Fund.
The release of this payment started January first and you are advice to
respond back immediately to enable us proceed with the release of your
The earlier we start
this transaction is better for you because it will enable us conclude faster.
I wait your response
With my best