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. )
- "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.
- email@example.com (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: Samie Yves <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 20 May 2013 19:48:06 +0800 (CST)
Subject: YOU WON US$2,800,000.00 via WESTERN UNION
We are here to notify you that the sum of US$2,800,000.00 was generated and
awarded to you by the Republic of Benin , West Africa commission and the Western
Union Foundation as one of the customers who uses Western Union in their
This award was been selected through the internet, where your e-mail address was
indicated and notified.The Western Union Foundation and the Republic of Benin
commission collects all the email addresses of the people that are active
online,among the millions of our customers who use Western Union in their
business transactions. Four people are selected yearly to benefit from this
promotion and you are one of the Selected Winners.
Therefore,be informed that we have already sent you $10,000 U.S.Dollars through
Western union as we have been given the mandate to transfer your full payment
total sum of US$2,800,000.00 U.S.Dollars via western union.
We tried several times to reach you through phone and give you the payment
information through phone but all our effort were to no avail. Now,The first
$10,000 US. Dollars has already been sent to you today. As We have concluded to
effect your payment through western union.You will be picking up $10,000 daily
until the $2,800.000.00 is completed.
So,contact the Western union Agent: Mr. Vincent Rex. His Tel: +229 99 66 13 90
E-mail: (email@example.com) Tell him to give you the MTCN number ,Sender
name,text Question and answer to pick up your first payment of $10,000.Dollar.
You will pay him $180 dollars for the processing of the payment before he will
give you the information to pick up your first payment of $10,000.00.dollar.
You can also ask him to send to you a proof, the ownership certificate of the
Funds. It is for you to be sure that the funds belong to you.
Make sure you send the following information to the western union office to
enable them verify and be sure that you are the real beneficiary:
Your Full name:
The only money you will pay to the Western Union office is $180 dollars and he
will release the MTCN number ,Sender name,text Question and answer to you to
pick up your first payment.As beneficiary will be required to pay for the
Processing of the payment before the release of the full payment
information.Please Bear this in mind before forwarding your information to him.
Please,contact Mr.Vincent Rex of the western Union office now so that he will
issue to you the full payment information after you might have paid the $180
dollars for the processing of the payment.Again,the below is his email address
Awards Coordinator Republic of Benin Commission/WEST AFRICA AND Western Union