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. )
- "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. )
- "million us dollars" (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)
- "ecowas " (the name of a person or institution often appearing 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.
- email@example.com (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: Western Union Payment <"WW."@jupiter.ocn.ne.jp>
Reply-To: Western Union Payment <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2017 00:12:47 +0900 (JST)
Subject: Western Union First Payment #MTCN 5779530804
This message is from Federal ministry of finance office under the ( ECOWAS ) we are to let you know that We have finally concluded with ( ECOWAS ) of Africa Benin Republic to release your payment worth $3.5Million US Dollars to you through Western Union which total payment going to be receive each day is $5,000.00 and First payment has been send: First #MTCN 5779530804 but you have to (Re-new Your Payment File) today before you will receive it
I told him to keep sending you $5,000.00 daily until the payment of $3.5Million US Dollars is completed, again re-confirm your address to avoid sending it to wrong person, so that they will be sure;
A copy of your Id....
Please find below, your information to pick up the first sent $5,000 USD and upon pick up by you, another detail we be sent again and I want you to track https://secure.Western Union/track you will see that the money is there
Use the below info to pick up your money now.
MTCN ::::::::::#MTCN 5779530804
Amount: $5,000 USD
Call Mr. Robert Mike on this number +1(346) 3145319 once you are back from Western Union.
Please, contact: Mr. Robert Mike To the below
E-mail (email@example.com )
Telephone: +1(346) 3145319
Contact him to give you Sender Name & Question and Answer to pick up your money today ok and let me know when you confirm it all.