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.
Click here to report a problem with this page.
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. )
- "courier service" (Courier companies mentioned in 419 scams are always fake. They will have you send money to them, but won't deliver anything. )
- 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: "MRS PROMISE DANIEL" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 14 Apr 2014 22:39:50 -0400 (AST)
Subject: I am waiting to hear from you.
Hello My Good Friend,
This is to inform you that the Government's Fund Recovery Agency, Ministry
of Finance Benin Republic has recovered some seized funds from the Banks,
Western Union Office and Courier Services Companies. It has been
discovered and verified that your name and information is among the
beneficiaries who could not conclude their transactions and did not
receive their fund.
I am very sorry for all that have happened in the past time in the cause
of your fund transfer transaction which is now converted to be paid
through International Certified Visa ATM CARD. Please note all is well
arranged and planned that you will have no problem in receiving the funds
of through the ATM VISA CARD network transaction. The visa card will be
sent to you through DHL courier delivery.
Please let me know and have your full names and address which you will
want to use in receiving your funds in form of VISA ATM CARD. Please note
all the arrangement is concluded and visa card is on my desk as for today.
All arrangement is completed that you will receive your fund through
International Certified Visa ATM CARD and fund will be withdraw able from
any ATM MACHINE cash withdrawal point in part of the World without any
further procedures because of all the delays you have encountered. All the
official charges have be paid by the Benin Republic Government on the
condition that once you receive this ATM CARD and start cashing, you will
refund the Government the fees that they paid.
Please contact me on phone and only on this my email address..
email@example.com so that we know your receiving address to send
the VISA CARD to you asap. The visa card will be attached to you in the
I am waiting to hear from you.
Mrs. Promise Daniel
Fund Recovery Agency,
Phone 00229 98 31 25 39