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:
- "moneygram" (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. )
- "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.
- MoneyGram money transfer is completely untraceable and therefore is *not* safe to use with anyone you do not know personally. Along with Western Union it is a 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: "Dr.Chris Ngige" <email@example.com>
Reply-To: "Dr.Chris Ngige" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thu, 11 Dec 2014 18:00:48 +0000 (UTC)
Subject: MONEYGRAM Reference #: 90286861
Â OFFICE OF THE MONEY GRAM MONEY TRANSFER.
COTONOU BENIN REPUBLIC/ADDRESS 78,
AVARAKU IGOLO ROAD COTONOU.
Phone +229 68739622
This is in regard of your transfer valued of $1.5m usd which was
release through this moneygram to transfer to you.
I want you to know that this fund valued of $1.5m usd will be
transferring to you through this moneygram every blessed day, and you
will receive each day $7,000.
Please find below, your information to pick up the first sent $7,000
and upon pick up by you, another detail we be sent again.
Use the below info to pick up your money now.
Reference #: 90286861
Text question: Sent
Text answer: Yes
Sender name....Mrs Jona Benson
Senders address: same as above
Feel free to reach us with this below e-mail address
(email@example.com) Phone +229 68739622
DIRECTOR MONEY GRAM
INTERNATIONAL BENIN REPUBLIC.