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. )
- "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. )
- "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)
- "high court" (Barristers (lawyers) mentioned in 419 scams are always fake.)
- "federal high court" (This court is often mentioned in '419' scams to give the victim a reason why he/she should send thousands of dollars to the scammers. A 'Federal High Court' exists in Germany and Nigeria, but not in other countries, such as the UK, Spain, Netherlands, Senegal, Benin, South Africa or other countries where fake lawyers in scams often claim to be based. )
- "cotonou" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- "email@example.com" (this email address has been used in a known scam)
- 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: Funds Transfer Section <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Reply-To: Funds Transfer Section <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2014 11:52:32 -0300 (ART)
Subject: Re: We Have Sent The Money
Urgent Attention Your Two payment were sent to you through WESTERN UNION,
from the total Funds $500,000.00 Dollars. We well know using Western union
for in such Transaction of huge amount may not be the best way, but due to
the year is about to come to end and Western union receives money and sends
money fast. $4500.00 Dollars sent in 2 MTCN today and each MTCN contains
$2250.00 Dollars. Here is the MTCN :739-189-628, MTCN: 296-688-351 it is
available for pick up at western union now. Contact Pastor Lewis Email him
at firstname.lastname@example.org Call him with this phone or text him at +22998965377
and Bear it in mind that you must pay $57.00 for signing your Certificate
of Ownership at Federal High Court Benin before Lewis will release the
MISSING number in the MTCN to you and for picking the $4500 sent to you
today. The $57 Dollars should be sent through Western union to below info,
Receivers Name:... Joe Okoro
City address is Cotonou
Test Question:.. What City
Answer :.. Cotonou
Amount: ...$57 US Dollars.
If you cannot pay this $57.00 to receive the $4500.00 already sent to you
today, then don't respond so that we cancel the $4500 sent to you today
immediately. because we do not have much time as the year is about to come
to an end.Call and send text at +22998965377