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. )
- "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.
- 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:
Reply-To: "email@example.com" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, 2 Apr 2016 21:27:13 +0900 (JST)
Subject: Money Gram Head office,
Money Gram Payment Office
West African Zonal Headquarter
Cotonou Benin Republic
Phone : +229 984 339 42
Money Gram Head office,
The Money Gram head office sitting in Cotonou Benin Republic is giving COMPERSATION to all our both Local/Foreign customers . This COMPERSATION is for those who might have sent money to Africa recently or before using MONEY GRAM.
You are one of our NEW YEAR BONANZA WINNER,
You have to emails email us back with the only your receiver address.
You can pick up your first payment of $4000,00 with our below using sender name and MTCN .
The Total NEW COMPERSATION WINNING funds on your name here is $3.6,MILLION, SO Quickly Get back to us with all your receiver address to enable us Give you the first $4000.00 payment details ,
And After that We will give you the second payment details immediately,so that you can pick up the second available paymend funds today . You can Email us on: email@example.com
MR. Ben Idu, MG. Director.
Money Gram Payment Office