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.
Click here to report a problem with this page.
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. )
- "high court" (Barristers (lawyers) mentioned in 419 scams are always fake.)
- "federal high court" (This court is often mentioned in '419' scams to give the victim a reason why he/she should send thousands of dollars to the scammers. A 'Federal High Court' exists in Germany and Nigeria, but not in other countries, such as the UK, Spain, Netherlands, Senegal, Benin, South Africa or other countries where fake lawyers in scams often claim to be based. )
- "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 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: Mr Howard Ronald <email@example.com>
Reply-To: Mr Howard Ronald <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2017 23:01:18 +0000 (UTC)
Subject: ATTENTION MY DEAR
WESTERN UNION DEPARTMENT HEAD OFFICE
24 RUE DUE AKPAKPA COTONOU BENIN REP.
ATTENTION MY DEAR
This is to report to you that our western union bureau have received a correspondence from the federal high court as cancellation notice for your funds transfer to be deleted from foreign payment file .
The western union management desires to inform you that your funds transfer with us has been programmed among the TWO(2) transactions that would face cancellation soon.
We have waited long time enough for you to fulfill the required obligations and claim the funds like other beneficiaries that have claimed their funds before DECEMBER ending this year but nothing comes up from you as indication from the funds owner.
the management of this western union held an urgent meeting in my office today, regards to the transferring of your funds by western union and they have asked my office to submit all the paper works and files containing your funds confidentiality but i refused and asked the board members to give me from now till 2days time so that i consult you personally for you to declare your interest on the funds transfer.
Further more, you are advised to reply to this email after reading, and feel free to tell us why you abandoned such huge amount here. let us know if you are no longer interested to complete your transaction.
Finally, if you still have the interest of being paid your funds by western union money transfer; you should kindly forward your receiverâs name and address including your phone number and your Email and password immediately so that we can Vilify your email and make sure that they is know hackers on it before we can update you the MTCN number
i am looking forward to your positive cooperation fairly soon.
Mr Howard Ronald
DIRECTOR of Western union Benin Republic