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. )
- "moneygram" (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)
- 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.
- MoneyGram money transfer is completely untraceable and therefore is *not* safe to use with anyone you do not know personally. Along with Western Union it is a 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: "Kelly Johnson" (may be fake)
Date: Mon, 22 May 2017 13:44:26 +0100
Subject: from Ministry Of Finance
I am Mrs. Johnson Kelly, from Ministry Of Finance Cotonou (Head office). This is to bring to you notice that after the conference meeting we had, The Government of this country realized that you are among those that involved in scam victim we have in our list to Compensate by the government of this country as instructions from United Nation (UN)The Governor of this state Cotonou Benin Republic has instructed this office to forward your file to WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER PAYMENT HEADQUARTER to pay you the sum of US$3.5000.00 through WESTERN UNION. His Excellence the GOVERNOR has instructed the WESTERN payment department , to send the sum of US $3.5000.00 through his custody for easy receiver of your funds. You are to contact them now to ensure that your fund will be transferring to you once you send them the needed information to avoid wrong transaction.
According to the demands of WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER you are to receive your fund at the installment rate of $5,000.00 daily until the US$3.5000.00 is completely transferred to you accordingly. You are to contact them now with the bellow information to avoid wrong transaction. Reconfirm your address
(1)Your Full name
(2)Your Phone number
(3)Your Contact address:
Listen very carefully, tell Mr.Kulvet Hope that you are advised to contact him by Mrs.Johnson Kelly . from Ministry Of Finance here in Cotonou Benin ;Bellow is their Contact Information. Contact with this information below: CONTACT PERSON: Mr. Kulvet Hope EMAIL:address:(email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org) Phone Number: :+229 988 54 775 Address: 455 AGBOKOU,ANKPA ROAD,LAGOTES PALAR.COTONOU BENIN REPUBLIC