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:
- "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.
- 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 (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: US Embassy Cotonou <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Reply-To: US Embassy Cotonou <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, 9 Dec 2014 22:38:04 +0000 (UTC)
Subject: Greeting from U.S Embassy Cotonou,
Â Greeting from U.S Embassy,
THIS MAIL IS ONLY FOR THE OWNER OF THIS E-MAIL ADDRESS
Please, I want to tell you that your file was delivered to my desk this morning, because SECRETARY united nation here in the Republic of Benin said that they will divert your compensation fund in the state treasury bill simply because you are not able to pay for their contribution in the amount of your fund, which was just $ 105.00 USD.
But I told them to wait until I hear from you today so that I'll know the reason why you have refused such a sum of money $3.5 million, which is compensation from the United Nations and will change your life just because of the $ 105.00 USD
I wish your urgent response as soon as you receive this letter, and tell me why you should give up your fund, or if you do not need it, then I can change my name another person so that corrupt government officials of the Republic of Benin will not require the money for their own selfish interests.
I will wait to hear from you,
Mr. James A. Knight.
United States Ambassador to the Republic of Benin