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. )
- "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. )
- "million us 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)
- "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: "Mr Luis Opitca" <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 6 Aug 2014 13:17:22 -0400
Subject: Re,URGENT REPLY (THE OWNER OF THIS EMAIL ADDRESS)
Welcome to Western Union
Send Money Worldwide
FROM OFFICE OF THE WESTERN
UNION MONEY TRANSFER.
COTONOU BENIN REPUBLIC
ADDRESS 455 AGBOKOU,ANKPA
WEB: www. westernunion.com/
our Western Union is now offering a Special BONUS to help all our customers
Contact Payment department; Dr Koffi Boni
Contact Line: +229 61395144
I WOULD LIKE TO LET YOU KNOW THAT THE MINISTER OF FINANCE DR BEN JOHNSON HAS
ORDERED THAT THE ONLY MONEY YOU WILL SEND NOW IS JUST 37DOLLARS SO THAT
WE WILL START SENDING TO YOU YOUR $5000 US DOLLARS DAILY UNTIL YOUR TOTAL FUND
OF ($1.5MILLION US DOLLARS) IS PAID TO YOU AND IF YOU FAIL TO COMPLY BY
SENDING THIS FEE WITHIN THREE DAYS OF THIS ORDER,YOUR TOTAL FUND WOULD BE
CONFISCATED AND IT WILL BE TRANSFERRED TO GOVERNMENT PURSE, HE SAID THAT THIS
IS THE FINAL ORDER.
SO I URGE YOU TO TRY AND SEE THAT YOU SEND THE 37DOLLARS. IMMEDIATELY
AFTER YOU RECEIVE THIS EMAIL TODAY SO THAT WE WILL FINALIZE EVERY THING TO TODAY,
BY TOMORROW,YOU WILL START TO BE RECEIVING YOUR FIRST $5000 US DOLLARS
DAILY,YOU URGE TO RESEND YOUR CURRENT INFORMATION SUCH AS YOUR PHONE NUMBER
ADDRESS AND FULL NAME IMMEDIATELY TO AVOID DELAY.
BELOW ARE THE PAYMENT INFORMATION TO SEND THE 37 DOLLARS OK,
YOU CAN GET BACK TO US SO THAT WE CAN GIVE YOU Our account officer RECEIVER
Reply To This Email Address Here ;firstname.lastname@example.org
MR. LUIS OPTICA
Western Union Payments.