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. )
- "clearance document" (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 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)
- 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: "Mr.PETER EVANS" <email@example.com>
Reply-To: "Mr.PETER EVANS" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2015 01:41:54 +0900 (JST)
Subject: INSTRUCTIONS TO DELIVER YOUR PACKAGE.
DHL International Benin Lot No. 23 Patte D'Oie 03 BP 2147 Cotonou, Benin Republic.
DHL Express is a well-established company offering courier and transport services 24 hours for priority delivery of letters, parcels and consignments to any destination by road, air or sea.
INSTRUCTIONS TO DELIVER YOUR PACKAGE.
This serves as urgent notice. Your Waybill tracking number is: 2115895331, you can track the parcel with Dhl website
The management of DHL Courier Company wishes to inform you that your shipment was stopped at PORTLAND, OR - USA on Thursday, since this week due to lack of clearance documentation and during our correspondent to the Custom Authority they requested for some vital document to enhance the immediate release of your shipment to you worth the sum of $4.5 million usd.
Confirm the above information to this office.
So the management of this company is hereby advised you to fine below details and send the documentation fee of $75 usd via Western Union to speed up the delivery process as soon as possible today.
Below is the detail where to send the $75 dollars Via Western Union Transfer ASAP.
Receipt Name: CHIKE FRANK
Destination: Benin republic
Address:455 Agbokou Ankpa Road Cotonou
We are definitely expecting your urgent respond to enhance the immediate release of your shipment today.
Director Shipment Officer