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. )
- "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. )
- "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)
- "we advice you" (this email uses bad English)
- "cotonou" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- "firstname.lastname@example.org" (this email address has been used in a known scam)
- This email message is a fake lottery scam. Consider the following facts about real lotteries:
- They don't notify winners by email.
- You can't win without first buying a lottery ticket.
- They don't randomly select email addresses to award prizes to.
- They don't use free email accounts (Yahoo, Hotmail, etc) to communicate with you.
- They don't tell you to call a mobile phone number.
- They don't tell you to keep your winnings secret.
- They will never ask a winner to pay any fees to receive a prize!
- 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.
Fraud email example:
From: harry brooks <email@example.com>
Reply-To: harry brooks <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, 2 Jan 2015 05:33:06 +0000 (UTC)
Subject: We Have Sent The Money
Â VITAL FINANCE ADJARA
Porto Novo, Cotonou Benin.
Thank you for your patronage and for using western Union Money Transfer to send money, we are so happy to have a customer like you. For using western union you details were put to the Ballot box for the ongoing 2015 Western Union Money Transfer Begining of the Year Bonanza Draw. You have won your self $500,000.00 US Dollars. This fund will be given to you through our office Western Union Payment Department Office, Detroit, Michigan, USA or an Western union location within your area.
Your winnings sum will be paid instalment with sums of $4500.00 US Dollars which will be sent to you in every Seven Hours (7hours) until the funds is completely paid to you, this is as a result that $4500.00 is the maximum limit our Western Union payment Department can send per transaction, we are legally allowed to pay you till receive your winnings fund worth of $500,000.00 US Dollars. The Following is the Western Union Money Control Number for your First payment of $4500.00: 3125850067
We advice you to track this information through WU Track
Senderâs first name: JOSEPH
Senderâs Last Name: MOTIGWE
MTCN Number: 3125850067
Note that the above has not been activated for you to pick up because your name has not been activated to it. To enable us activate your payment immediately you would be required to pay a small activation charge of $87 Dollars. Please be informed that this charge can not be deducted from your account because itâs bonded and has been programmed till your final payment. This would be paid once and will not be requested to pay it after your transaction has been activated. Send the US$87 Dollars payment information to our Western Union payment agent below as soon as it's done. Upon the receipt of the US$87.00, your programmed transaction will be activated and you would enable you receive your start receiving your winnings in US$4500.00 installments.
The Receivers Information For The US$87 is as follows:
Receivers Name: Peter Ngozi
Address: Adjara Dokodji Porto Novo
Text Question: Present Year
Amount to be sent: US$87
Immediately he receives the payment, our Western Union payment Department shall activate your programmed transaction to enable you receive your first instalment payment of $4,500 immediately. Please Note: this control number (3125850067) should be kept very safe and secret for your own security, to avoid someone else tempering with you funds. Call or send text at +22998965377 for more Details and directives.
We congratulate you in Advance.
Winnings Claims Bonanza Department
Western Union Money Transfer Office.
E-mail email@example.com tel +22998965377.