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. )
- "i am using this medium to " (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "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.
Fraud email example:
From: "scott" <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 6 Mar 2013 15:28:30 -0400
Subject: THE TRUTH ABOUT YOUR FUND FROM A NEW DIRECTOR OF THE (WUMT) DEPARTMENT
FROM OFFICE OF THE WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER.
ADDRESS NO.72 AGATA ROAD, COTONOU BENIN REPUBLIC
WESTERN UNION HEAD OFFICE DEPARTMENT REPUBLIC OF BENIN.
FOREIGN CONTRACTOR PAYMENT OFFICE
TELEPHONE: +229 6843 3938
FOLLOW UP THE INSTRUCTION GIVEN BELOW BECAUSE AFTER OUR MEETING HELD WITH THE FBI, UNITED NATION, BOARD DIRECTORS OF WESTERN UNION AND FEDERAL MINISTRY OF FINANCE, THEY FINALIZE THAT YOU HAVE ONLY 48HOURS GIVEN TO RECEIVE YOUR FIRST PAYMENT OF $5,000 USD FROM THE TOTAL FUNDS WHICH IS (2.5 M) SINCE YOU ARE FINDING IT DIFFICULT TO MAKE THIS PAYMENT, WE HAVE DECIDED THAT YOU ARE TO GO AHEAD AND PAY WHATEVER YOU HAVE FOR THE FEES SINCE YOU ARE NOT ABLE TO COME UP WITH THE REQUIRED SUM.
OUR GOVERNMENT HAVE WARN YOU TO STOP FURTHER COMMUNICATION/DEALING WITH ANY BANKS THAT HAVE NO WEBSITE DUE TO FRAUD GOING ON WORLDWIDE. ANY BANKS
THAT ARE CONTACTING YOU WITHOUT WEBSITE IS FAKE. PLEASE VIEW OUR WEBSITE NOW:WWW.WESTERNUNION.COM.
THEREFORE GO STRAIGHT NOW AND PAY ANY AMOUNT YOU HAVE AT HAND FOR THE FEES TO ENABLE US RELEASE YOUR PAYMENT THAT IS PLACE ON HOLD BY THE MANAGEMENT
AND BE INFORMED THAT YOU WILL HAVE TO PAY THE BALANCE SUM OF YOUR FEES UPON CASHING UP YOUR FIRST 5,000:00 USD, ALSO I AM USING THIS MEDIUM TO INFORM YOU THAT FAILURE TO PAY THE BALANCE SUM WILL LEAVE US WITH NO OPTION BUT TO CANCEL THE TRANSFER TO YOU AND REDIRECT YOUR FUND TO THE GOVERNMENT.
HERE IS THE INFORMATION OF YOUR FIRST PAYMENT BUT IT IS PLACE ON HOLD BY THE MANAGEMENT AND YOU CAN NOT BE ABLE TO PICK IT UP UNTIL YOU SEND THE DEMAND FEE WHICH IS ANY AMOUNT OF MONEY YOU HAVE, JUST TO PROVE HOW SERIOUS YOU ARE.
1. SENDER FIRST NAME....SAHRIR
2. SENDER SECOND NAME...SAAD
3. TEST QUESTION...FROM ME
4. TEST ANSWER.....TO YOU
5. AMOUNT ..........$5,000 USD
6. MTCN...........9167653719 (Available for pick up by receiver)
FOR YOUR INFORMATION DO NOT EXPECT THE RELEASING OF YOUR PAYMENT WITHOUT SENDING THE MONEY REQUIRED AND REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE GIVEN ONLY 24 HOURS
TO COMPLY OR YOUR TRANSFER WILL BE CANCEL IMMEDIATELY SINCE YOU ARE TOLD TO SEND ANY AMOUNT OF MONEY YOU HAVE IN ORDER TO HELP YOU. BELOW IS OUR ACCOUNT OFFICER NAME WHICH YOU WILL USE TO SEND WHATEVER YOU HAVE TO ENABLE US RELEASE YOUR FIRST PAYMENT IMMEDIATELY.
1. RECEIVER NAME...EZEOBI HENRY
2. COUNTRY... BENIN REPUBLIC
3. CITY... COTONOU.
4. TEST QUESTION...WHAT COLOR?
5. TEST ANSWER...WHITE.
6. AMOUNT ............ANY
SEND US THE MTCN NUMBER IMMEDIATELY YOU SEND THE MONEY AND IMMEDIATELY WE CONFIRM THE TRANSFER FEE WE WILL RELEASE YOUR FIRST PAYMENT $5000 TODAY
AND NOT TOMORROW. MY DIRECT PHONE LINE IS +229 6843 3938 DR.HENRY EGOMAKA ALSON FROM THE HEAD OFFICE OF WESTERN UNION BENIN REPUBLIC FOR YOUR PAYMENT
DR.HENRY EGOMAKA ALSON
GENERAL OPERATION MANAGER.
TELEPHONE NUMBER: +229 6843 3938