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:
- An email address listed inside this email has been used in a known fraud before.
- 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. )
- "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)
- "contact me immediately" (scammers rush victims so they don't have time to think properly)
- "abuja" (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.
- 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 (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: Ambassador James <email@example.com>
Reply-To: Ambassador James <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 14 Dec 2015 20:01:53 +0000 (UTC)
Subject: From Office of the US Ambassador to Nigeria
Office of the US Ambassador to Nigeria
11 Garki road Abuja
Without missing words, I am convinced 100% that you have had bitter experience with various scammers claiming to be high government officials banks and thereby defrauding you of your hard earned money the activities of these scammers has changed your perspective about conducting business on the internet and you now believed there is no genuine business that can be conducted on the internet. Well I am American and the internet was created by Americans for the purpose of creating; awareness for your products/ services and conducting genuine business with ease. I am fully committed to deliver the diplomatic consignment to you. I am a full citizen of the United States but i was on a mission here in Nigeria as a us ambassador to Nigeria.
Hence, I am making every effort to ensure that no citizen of the United States is cheated by Nigeria/Benin republic. Therefore, I need your utmost support and understanding to actualize this dream. I also want you to understand that i do trust you and i expect you to show me the same trust and respect in return since trust is a 2-way street. On the other hand, trust is a relationship of reliance. Trust also means being able to predict what other people will do and what situations will occur.
I shall be coming to your country for an official meeting on Monday and I will be bringing your funds of $15.5m along with me but this time I will not go through customs because as an ambassador to Nigeria, I am a us government agent and I have the veto power to go through customs. As soon as I am through with the meeting I shall then proceed to your address. (Send your cell phone number and the address where you want me to bring the package).
You have really paid so much in this delivery that makes me wonder. You are a very lucky person because I shall be bringing it myself and there is nothing anyone can do about it, your package($15.5m) must be registered as an ambassadorial package for me to defeat all odds and the cost of registering it is $108.the fee must be paid in the next 50 hours via western union or money gram so that all necessary arrangement can be made before time will be against us. Contact me immediately for the registering fee which is $108 only.
As soon as you send the fee make sure you send me the payment information. My flight is Sunday and I expect you to comply before then so that the delivery can be completed. If you do not comply, then it will not be my fault if you do not receive your consignment.
James F. Entwistle,
Us Ambassador To Nigeria.