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. )
- "high court" (Barristers (lawyers) mentioned in 419 scams are always fake.)
- "federal high court" (This court is often mentioned in '419' scams to give the victim a reason why he/she should send thousands of dollars to the scammers. A 'Federal High Court' exists in Germany and Nigeria, but not in other countries, such as the UK, Spain, Netherlands, Senegal, Benin, South Africa or other countries where fake lawyers in scams often claim to be based. )
- "courier company" (Courier companies mentioned in 419 scams are always fake. They will have you send money to them, but won't deliver anything. )
- "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 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.
Fraud email example:
From: "MRS.MARRY ANDERSON" <email@example.com>
Reply-To: "MRS.MARRY ANDERSON" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, 9 Jan 2015 10:12:23 +0000 (UTC)
Subject: ATTENTION DEAR $7.5M.USD
Â ATTENTION DEAR $7.5M.USD
THIS IS MRS.MARRY ANDERSON, ATTORNEY & COUNSELS AT LAW FEDERAL HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE BENIN REPUBLIC. ADDRESS: PLOT 102 JBSE ISLAND AVENUE KPARAKOU, COTONOU REPUBLIC. OF BENIN NOTE THAT WE HAVE DECIDED TO PAY YOU YOUR MONEY THROUGH WESTERN UNION URGENT REMMITTING OFFICE SINCE YOU WAS UNABLE TO RECEIEVE YOUR MONEY THROUGH A COURIER COMPANY,MONEY GRAM,BANK TO BANK WIRE TRANSFER AND ATM VISA CARD DUE TO THEIR MANAGEMENT BUT NOW WE HAVE SENT YOUR FULL COMPENSATION PAYMENT OF $7.5M.USD. TO YOU THROUGH WESTERN UNION.
YOU WILL BE RECEIVING 5,000 USD PER DAY, BUT I WANT YOU TO CONTACT THE MANAGEMENT IN WESTERN UNION RIGHT NOW AND ASK HIM FOR YOUR FIRST PAYMENT.HIS NAME IS (MR.ANTHONY GEORGE) AND ASK HIM TO GIVE YOU THE WESTERN UNION PAYMENT INFORMATION SO THAT YOU CAN BE ABLE TO PICK UP YOUR FUNDS THROUGH WESTERN UNION AROUND YOU WITHOUT ANY PROBLEM.
VITAL FINANCE WESTERN UNION TRANSFER
DEPARTMENT.LOCATION ADDRESS; PLOT 1261,
ADEOLA HOPEWELL STREET CO/B/REP,
CONTACT PERSON: MR.ANTHONY GEORGE
TELE PHONE NUMBER: +229 98123964
EMAIL ADRESS (email@example.com)
AND CONTACT HIM WITH YOUR FULL INFORMATION.
CALL OR EMAIL HIM NOW SO THAT HE CAN PROVIDE THE WESTERN UNION INFORMATION TO YOU AS URGENT AS YOU CAN.ALSO DO LET ME KNOW IMMEDIATELY THEY HAVE STARTED SENDING YOUR FUND, BUT TRY TO COMPLY WITH THEM TO ENABLE THEM SERVE YOU BETTER.
WE WISH YOU GOOD LUCK