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:
- 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. )
- "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. )
- "million united states 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)
- ",000,000" (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)
- 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 william uba <email@example.com>
Reply-To: Mr william uba <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, 5 Dec 2014 19:04:07 +0000 (UTC)
Subject: Your pending $5,000,000.00USD has been released
Â Hello Dear customer,
On behalf of the management of entire Western Union Office in West Africa including Federal Republic of Nigeria and Benin, i write to inform you that after the general meeting held on January, we concluded with the federal authority that your funds will no longer be transferred through western union means of sending money worldwide. This issue was investigated and addressed by the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Governing Board of Central Bank because of the unnecessary delay of your payment. It was further noticed that your funds has been unnecessarily delayed by corrupt officials of some banks and other government officials as well as some Western Union agents in those countries. Currently your payment has been recommended and approved by the federal authority that an official ATM card will be delivered to you within 72 hours.
We therefore agreed with the federal authority that your total fund of five million United States Dollars ($5,000,000.00USD) will be uploading in office ATM card because it will also take much time to transfer such huge amount by western union. This led to the agreement that you will be sent an ATM card with the value of five million United States Dollars ($5,000,000.00USD). It will also put a stop on hopeless situation created by those officials who claimed to be in charge of your funds. Your fund is now credited in ATM card in your favor and deactivated for security reasons.
The federal authority in their view to making the delivery of your ATM successful, appointed UBA BANK GROUP ATM director Mr.Thomas Sears to take charge of the transaction. He is the only director in charge of your funds now, you are advised now to stop any further communication with other offices including western union and money gram. Western Union is no longer in charge of your funds, if you receive any mail telling you to contact western union, kindly know that it's a fake and it will be treated as fraud mail. They also ordered some secret security to monitor the director until you receive your ATM card and withdraw all your funds.
Contact Mr. Thomas Sears now at (Account Options(email@example.com) office line: +229-9858 2907. Call him immediately you emailed him for urgent response on what to do next.
Ms.Linda DouglasManagement of Western Union West Africa