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:
- "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. )
- "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. )
- "consignment " (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)
- "ecowas " (the name of a person or institution often appearing 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.
- 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: OFFICEFILE <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2015 06:11:41 -0800
Subject: (no subject)
IâM DIPLOMAT JOHN GEORGE MICHEAL; I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO REACH YOU ON
TELEPHONE ABOUT AN HOUR NOW JUST TO INFORM YOU ABOUT MY SUCCESSFUL
IN JOHN F. KENNEDY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT WITH YOUR TWO BOXES OF
WORTH $1.2MUSD WHICH I HAVE BEEN INSTRUCTED BY ECOWAS COURIER DELIVERY
COMPANY TO BE DELIVERED TO YOU.
THE AIRPORT AUTHORITY DEMANDED FOR ALL THE LEGAL BACK UP PAPERS TO PROVE
THEM THAT THE FUND IS NO WAY RELATED WITH DRUG NOR FRAUD MONEY, I HAVE
PRESENTED THE PAPERS I HANDED TO THEM AND THEY ARE VERY MUCH PLEASED
THE PAPERâS I PRESENTED, BUT THE ONLY THING THAT IS STILL KEEPING ME
IS THE AIRPORT DELIVERY YELLOW TAG WHICH IS NOT PLACED ON THE BOXES, ONE
THE AIRPORT AUTHORITY HAS ADVISE THAT WE GET THE DELIVERY YELLOW TAG SO
THAT I CAN EXIT THE AIRPORT IMMEDIATELY AND MAKE MY DELIVERY SUCCESSFUL
YOU. I TRY TO REASON WITH THEM AND THEY STATED THE DELIVERY YELLOW TAG
COST US JUST $95 DOLLARS ONLY TO GET THE TWO TAG PLACED ON THE BOXES AS
THAT TAG WILL ENABLE ME GET TO YOUR HOUSE SUCCESSFULLY WITHOUT ANY
INTERFERENCE, THEY SCANNED THE BOXES AND FOUND OUT THAT THE FUND IS 100
SPEND ABLE AND ACCEPTED BY ANY BANK IN THE WHOLE WORLD.
PLEASE TRY AND REACH ME WITH MY INTERNATIONAL ROAMING NUMBER + 229
AS I CAN NOT AFFORD TO SPEND MORE TIME HERE DUE TO OTHER DELIVERY I HAVE
TAKE CARE OF IN BANGKOK. I WILL PROVID YOU THE PAPERS BACKING THE FUNDS
TOGETHER WITH MY ID CARD AS I CAN ACCOMPANY YOU TO YOUR BANK WERE YOU
DEPOSIT THE FUND SUCCESSFULLY WITH THESE PAPERS. I HAVE MORE VITAL PAPER
WITH ME BUT I CAN ONLY PRESENT YOU THE HARD COPY WHEN I REACH YOUR HOUSE
THAT ITâS THE DIPLOMATIC RULES, SUCH AS AUTHORIZATION TO DELIVER. YOU
DIRECT THE TAG FEE TO OUR HEAD OFFICE AS THEY WILL GET IT HERE FOR YOU
THEY ARE ENTITLED TO RECEIVE AND MAKE ANY PAYMENT TO FOREIGN COUNTRIES
AUTHORITY. GET BACK TO ME IN MY PRIVATE EMAIL;
SEND THE $95 THROUGH MONEY GRAM WITH THIS INFORMATIONS BELOW.
RECEIVER EMMA ODILI
COUNTRY BENIN REPUBLIC
AMOUNT $95 US DOLLARS
TEXT QUESTION. WHAT COLOR?
SEND THE PAYMENT INFORMATIONS SUCH AS THE MTCN AND THE SENDERS NAME ONCE
YOU MAKE THE PAYMENT