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. )
- "courier service" (Courier companies mentioned in 419 scams are always fake. They will have you send money to them, but won't deliver anything. )
- "ecowas " (the name of a person or institution often appearing in 419 scams)
- "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.
Fraud email example:
From: drlome Ifeh <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Reply-To: drlome Ifeh <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 10 Dec 2014 08:45:29 +0000 (UTC)
Subject: YOUR UPDATE FOR YOUR ATM CARD
Â Good day,
This is to inform you that the Fund Recovery Agency, Ministry of
Finance of the Government of The Benin Republic has recovered some
seized funds from the Western Union Office and Courier Services
Companies including Banks during the ongoing first quarter of the year's
financial accounts and reports activity. It has been discovered that
your name and information was among the beneficiaries who could not
conclude their transactions did not receive their entitled fund from the
above mentioned institutions according to the report on your payment
file recovered during the recovery operations.
The reason why this fund has not be sent to you was an out of trust
from you and other people involved in this regard as the recent
investigations revealed. Right now this fund have been deposited with
the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS Apex Bank which is
the "Central Bank Of West African States" by the Government with
mandate that this fund should be paid to you through International
Certified Visa ATM CARD and fund will be withdraw able from any ATM
MACHINE cash point in part of the World without any further procedures
because of all the delays you have encountered because all the necessary
official charges in regards of this fund have be paid by the Benin
Republic Government on the condition that once you receive this ATM CARD
and start withdrawing funds from it, you will refund the Government the
fee that they paid on your behalf which is USD $18,000.00. You are also
required to know that the total cash value of your ATM CARD is USD $8.5
If you agree on the condition of refunding the Government the
mentioned amount USD $18,000.00 which they spent in order to finalize
your fund release and your payment via ATM VISA CARD, you are hereby
required to reconfirm your full information for the delivery of your ATM
CARD without further delays within 4 days through DHL Courier Services.
Email address: (firstname.lastname@example.org )
Please provide the below required information:
Full name: ......................
Phone no: .......................................
A copy of your International Passport or Identity Card or Driver's
As soon as you have complied with the instructions, your ATM CARD
will be delivered to you in 4 days' time after we received the
information for the delivery.
Address: BP 787 Government Route Kanji Cotonou Benin Republic. Tel.+229 61403491