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.
- 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 (Gmail/GoogleMail; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: SARAH CECILIA ELIJAH <email@example.com>
Reply-To: SARAH CECILIA ELIJAH <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 9 Dec 2014 12:37:20 +0000 (UTC)
Subject: Attention; I AM MRS.SARAH CECILIA ELIJAH
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 Boni,
Now the only fee required by the CENTRAL BANK is just the CENTRAL BANK ACTIVATION APPROVAL OF THE CHEQUE which is $47 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 $47,you are going to receive your funds through a LETTERED BANK DRAFT CHEQUE and the reason why this $47.00 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,MrÂ President Thomas Yayi BoniÂ 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 funds.
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 UnionÂ / Money Gramtoday?
Receiver's Name..NMATA OKELYE
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 12th of Now 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 $47.00 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.
MRS. SARAH CECILIA ELIJAH
Secretary of the office of the President