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. )
- 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 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 (Hotmail; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: Western Union <email@example.com>
Date: Fri, 1 Apr 2016 11:22:55 -0700
Subject: YOUR PAYMENT SLIP IS READY
Swift Input : FIN103 CUSTOMER CREDIT
Date of issue : 14 / 03/ 2016
Maturing At : / 24 / 03/2016
Amount : 950,000.00 USD
TRANSIT BULK DELIVERY TRANSFER NOTIFICATION: REF. S076554920134392/AF298/W=
We refer to the thirty- six (36) payments sent to our branch on the 14th o=
f March 2016 under the instructions of the International Centre for Settlem=
ent of Contracts & Investments Disputes (ICSID) which is a United Nations W=
orld Bank Assisted Project to compensate 100 owed foreign contractors/Scam =
victims with the sum of US$950,000 each through Western Union Services.
Further to this, Your name was shortlisted and submitted to us as the bene=
ficiary to one of the payments under the above-mentioned transaction refere=
nces. We have been trying to reach you on the phone to give you the MTCN an=
d the deposit slip all to no avail. However, be informed that We have concl=
uded arrangement to effect your payment through a daily Money Transfer Cont=
rol Number (MTCN).
But the maximum amount you shall be receiving henceforth is $5,000 daily u=
ntil the total funds is completely paid out to you.
Kindly contact Western Union Branch Agent with the below information for t=
he pick up details:
Contact Person: Brown Cooper
Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Phone Number: +2349090918039
Make Sure you contact him with your Contract/Inheritance reference number =
S076554920134392/AF298/WQM1/Z01 and your current contact details such as;
1. Your Full Names: ...............................
2. Your Cell Phone Number:.........................
3. Your Home Address: .............................
4. Your Occupation:................................
5. Your Age and Sex:...............................
Although, a non-activated daily installment of 5,000.00 USD has been input=
ted and sent to your name, hence you are to activate your account with them=
for security reasons, so kindly contact Mr.Brown Cooper and tell him to gi=
ve you the MTCN, Sender Name, Question/Answer to pick the 5,000.00 USD.
Please let me know as soon as you have received it.
Branch Mgr, Product/Service Dept.