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:
- 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. )
- "money transfer control number" (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)
- "00,000.00" (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)
- "abuja" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- "lagos" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- This email message is a fake lottery scam. Consider the following facts about real lotteries:
- They don't notify winners by email.
- You can't win without first buying a lottery ticket.
- They don't randomly select email addresses to award prizes to.
- They don't use free email accounts (Yahoo, Hotmail, etc) to communicate with you.
- They don't tell you to call a mobile phone number.
- They don't tell you to keep your winnings secret.
- They will never ask a winner to pay any fees to receive a prize!
- 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 (Yahoo, Japan; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: "Western Union®" (may be fake)
Date: Tue, 2 Sep 2014 18:32:31 -0400
Subject: Your First Payment MTCN: 4231822792 (Available for pick up by receiver)
WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER®
INSTALLMENT PAYMENT OFFICE
Payment officer: Mr. Serge Zabo
WESTERN UNION INSTALLMENT PAYMENT ONLY.
We write to inform you officially that the Board of Director of the Debt Reconciliation Center,Inconjuction with the Federal Republic of Nigeria,Federal Ministry of Finance Nigeria, Western union Agent Akpakpa with the UK LOTTERY ORGANIZATION has approved the payment sum of US$500,000,00(FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND UNITED STATE DOLLARS) as a DEPT RECONCILIATION PAYMENT, for your Winning funds with Compensation Head office, deposited by the Uk Lottery organization for payment to you as the Winning owner/Beneficiary of the amount US$500,000.00.
After the Law Enforcement judgement between the UK LOTTERY ORGANIZATION Agent Mr. Goldman Smith and Compensation finance head office, The meeting held on the 17TH of March, 2014,with the aformentioned office and banks, the Concluded arrangement has appointed our office (Western Union Money Transfer) to pay your unpaid Winning fund through western union electronic system for your easy pickup and to avoid further unforeseen delay that could make your fund not to get to you in a timely manner.
The Management of the UK LOTTERY ORGANIZATION HEAD BRANCH here in West Africa have submitted your name, city and country informations to our office for endorsement & daily activation of your payment which has been programmed to be transfered under installment at rate of $5,500.00 daily as Western Union laws here does not allow transferring funds above $5.500.00 at once from this country to another, but will be sending under installment of $5,500.00 daily till the amount is completely paid. In other words. We have today transferred your first installment payment available for your pickup at any western union office nearest to you, but still on hold due to the unpaid endorsement & daily activation file fee amount of $150.00 you supposed to pay before you can pickup your first installment today.
You will pickup the bellow installment at any western union office nearest to you with bellow information's as soon as you send the $150 endorsement & daily activation file fee. Immediately the Activation is made, You can track and trace your first installment payment online at https://wumt.westernunion.com/asp/orderstatus.asp?country=global OR Call Western Union tracking number 1-800-325-6000 for avaiable fund verification purpose.
Money Transfer Control Number (M.T.C.N): 4231822792
Senders First Name: TREVON
Senders Last Name: GATES (To track and verify the Mtcn Visit: https://wumt.westernunion.com/asp/orderstatus.asp?country=global
Text Question: Sport?
Amount Programmed: $5,500.00
NOTE: YOU CAN NOT PICKUP YOUR FIRST INSTALLMENT PAYMENT, UNTIL YOU MEET UP WITH THE ACTIVATION CHARGES OF $150.00
To Avoid any atom of mistake, you are hereby required to reconfirm your payment receiver's name and address to avoid any mistake of payment activation during activation process of your payment as soon as the daily endoursement charges is paid.
Reconfirm the information as given to you below.
Receiver's Tel. Number :
Please note that the receiver's information is very vital to us as the activation of your daily installment will be directing to your receiver's name and address.
The endorsement & daily activation file fee of $150 will be sending to our office here in care to ............ through any western union nearest to you:
Cashier/Receiver's Name: MUNO JOHN
City & Country: Lagos, Nigeria 23401
Text Question: Good ?
As soon as you send the fee, send us the transfer Mtcn to help us proceed with immediate transfer release of your installment payment.
Once your payment is confirmed, we shall proceed with the activation of your payment for available pickup in your Name/country/Address.
Notice: This payment was approved by the federal ministry of finances Abuja, Nigeria to beneficiary only.
We anticipate your kind co-operation.
Thanks For Using Western Union Office
Mr. Serge Zabo.
Western Union Office Inconjuction with Federal Ministry of Finance