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. )
- "await your urgent response" (scammers rush victims so they don't have time to think properly)
- "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.
- 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: James Knight <email@example.com>
Reply-To: James Knight <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, 20 Jul 2013 08:33:21 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: GREETINGS FROM US EMBASSY
GREETINGS FROM US EMBASSY
THIS MAIL IS ONLY FOR THE OWNER OF THIS E-MAIL ADDRESS
Please I want to inform you that your fund was brought to my desk this morning .because the director of the western union here in Benin republic said that they will divert your fund to the government treasuries account, just because that you refused to pay for the transfer fee of your fund which is $30
But I told them to wait until, I hear from you today so that I will know the reason why you reject and abandoned such amount of money $550,000.00 millions which will change your life just because of $30
I want your urgent response as soon as you receive this email and tell me the reason why you have abandon your fund or if you are not interested in it again then I can change your name to another person name, so that the government will not claim this funds
Please you get back to me with this contact information as soon as you send the $30 if you are really interested in receiving your fund today
Receives Name::::::::::Sylvester Anaelutu
Country ::::::::: Benin Republic :
Teste Question::::::::: Urgent
Send me your full contact information as required below.
Your Full name....
Your country ...
Your home address...
Your private phone number.....
Scanned copy of ID card......
Contact me through this Email Address:
Ambassador James Knight
I await your urgent response
United States Ambassador to the Republic of Benin