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:
- "dear friend" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "cost of transfer" (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. )
- "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.
- 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: MR JOHNSON M WILLIMA <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, 14 Jan 2014 16:43:52 +0100
Subject: DEAR BENEFICIARY ,
DEAR BENEFICIARY ,
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE ECO BANK AUDITOR HERE HAS TODAY CONCLUDED TO ACCEPT
ONLY $47.00 TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU CONFIRM $3.8M INTO YOUR ACCOUNT WITH OUT
MY GOD KNOWS THAT I AM VERY SINCERE TO YOU IN THIS TRANSACTION THEREFORE
YOU WILL SURELY RECEIVE $3.8M INTO YOUR ACCOUNT ONCE YOU COMPLY WITH $47.00
AS THE COST OF TRANSFER (COT). PLEASE MY DEAR FRIEND, YOU NEED TO ACT
URGENT TO SEND ONLY $47.00 BECUASE THAT WILL BE ONLY FEE THAT YOU ENTITLE
TO PAY FOR RECEIVING YOUR $3.8M WITHOUT ANY FURTHER DELAY. I AS MIGHT HAVE
TOLD YOU BEFORE , I AM A BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN 35 YEARS AGO THEREFORE I CAN
NEVER NEVER LET MY FELLOW HUMAN BEING DOWN AS RESULT OF FEAR OF GOD IN ME
MEANWHILE THE AUTHORISING BANK TO PAY IS ECO BANK PLC BENIN REPUBLIC AS THE
INSTRUCTION WAS PASSED TO THEM, AS SOON AS YOU PAY ONLY $ 47.00 TO THEM YOU
CONFIRM TELEX REPORTS $3.8M WITHOUT ANY TROUBLE OR DELAY TO YOU.
PAY THE ONLY $47.00 ON DETAILS STATED BELLOW TO THE SKYE BANK PLC BENIN
REPUBLIC:CONTACT NAME DR EVANS BROGHTON EMAIL: (firstname.lastname@example.org)
TEL--PHONE;+229 98333967 HOW EVER THIS IS THE INFORMATION TO SEND THE
$47.00 IMMEDIATELY FOR URGENT TRANSFER OF YOUR FUND OK?
Receiver Name: Stanley Lawrence
Country: Benin Republic
Question: i swear?
Answer: to god
MTCN Number: ................?
HOPE TO HEAR FROM YOU IMMEDIATELY YOU RECEIVE THIS MASSAGE .
MR JOHNSON M WILLIMA ,
DIRECTOR ECO BANK
COTONOU BENIN REPUBLIC