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. )
- "money gram" (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. )
- "hundred thousand united state dollars" (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)
- "united state dollar" (this email uses bad English)
- "cotonou" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- "cheque " (Beware of any scheme that involves cashing checks or money orders and then wiring a portion of the funds somewhere - you'll be liable for the entire amount if the checks or money orders turn out to be fake, even after you have received and forwarded cash. If it's a lottery prize, remember that real lotteries do not pay large prizes by check. They wire the money directly to your bank account and you do not pay for that. Many scammers promise a large check only in order to then demand payment of courier fees for a fake courier service. )
- 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: "MRS.MARRY JOHNSON" <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, 17 May 2014 00:25:35 -0700
Subject: Secretary of the office of the President
*Attention; I AM MRS.MARRY JOHNSON *
*We are working towards a corruption-free world by promoting and defending
integrity, justice and the rule of lawâ Mission statement of the
International Anti-Corruption Academy, We cover West African Countries.
This is official notice to you that this office of His Excellency Mr.
President Dr. Thomas Boni Yayi has been mandated to monitor and follow up
your payment of Eight Million Five Hundred Thousand United State Dollars
$8.5Million through Benin Republic.*
*Moreover, I have sent you a lot of email and also called you several times
before traveling out from the office to Saudi Arabia for a business
transaction. Furthermore, I have not been happy because my heart has not
been at peace because your fund has been troubling me, since I came back
just some few weeks ago and when I asked about your payment case, I was
informed that your compensation payment has not yet been completed and
paid, Perhaps, you know your fund has been wired into an ATM VISA CARD but
due to the delay in the process of delivering your ATM VISA CARD, the
process was cancelled and now your fund has been withdrawn and ready to be
wired to you in cash. But orders came from His Excellency President Yayi
*Now the only fee required by the CENTRAL BANK is just the CENTRAL BANK
ACTIVATION APPROVAL OF THE CHEQUE which is $56 no COD. This payment is the
only money you will have to pay to they to receive this cheque in your home
address, and as soon as you send this $56, you are going to*
*receive your funds through a LETTERED BANK DRAFT CHEQUE and the reason why
this $56.00 is needed for the ACTIVATION of the cheque is to enable you to
have no problems in cashing out the cheque, because as soon as this cheque
is activated, and when you receive it you can take it to any bank of your
choice and pick up the cash without any trouble or any further delay;*
*Furthermore, Mr President Thomas Yayi Boni have approved your FUND
TRANSFER CHEQUE of $8.5Million usd. No any other person or individual will
call for the claiming of this fund except you because you are the sole
beneficiary and ownership of this fund, because we wonât allow any other
person to claim this fund and the reason why I am saying all this us
because there are many imposters these days that are claiming peopleâs
*So kindly get back to us with the below information because your CHEQUE
will be sent to you as a LETTER, this means that you will receive your
cheque through a LETTER CHEQUE.*
*Below is the information to send thought Western Union / Money Gram today?*
*Receiver's name..Linus Nweke*
*Country.. Benin Republic*
*Finally, remember send me an email regarding with the confirmation of your
HOME ADDRESS to avoid any mistakes or errors in posting your letter bank
draft cheque but you did not. And our Excellency the president has already
signed the cheque Today been the 21th of January 2014 and he said I should
notify and inform him when the cheque is posted. And please open the
attachment and you will find a scan copy of your cheque, because this
$56.00 is the only thing delaying it.*
*We will be waiting for your call or email for the immediate procedure for
the payment of your compensation fund CHEQUE.*
*Secretary of the office of the President*