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:
- "dear sir/madam" (a standard Nigerian greeting phrase)
- "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. )
- "united state dollar" (this email uses bad English)
- "cotonou" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- "email@example.com" (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.
- 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 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:
From: "Mrs. Eucharia Jerome" <Officemail.@lion.ocn.ne.jp>
Reply-To: "Mrs. Eucharia Jerome" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sun, 28 Oct 2018 21:27:20 +0900 (JST)
Subject: Contact Western Union Payment Dept-Office.
There is an issue with the Western Union Money Transfer in the amount of ($2.5M) Two Million Five Hundred Thousands United State Dollars to the beneficiary directed in cash credited to file KTU/926775/03, at the owner of this email address.
The International Monetary Fund contacted us for your Inheritance fund a couple of hours ago, due to your allocated security code. We are unable to complete a transfer directed at an email address, so we require some more information in order to complete this transfer with our Western Union department.
Here are the information$B!G(Bs needed for you to fill out:
1. Full Name:
2. Full Address:
3. Marital Statue:
9. Country of Residence.
In order to resolve this problem, please email via Western Union Solicitors Fund Verification Department:
Western Union OPERATION DEPARTMENT. ADJARA DOKODJI COTONOU, BENIN REP.
Here is their Contact Below:
Contact Person: Mr. Tony White, the Western Union Payment
Center Benin Rep,
Tel: +229 98257862.
As soon as this information is received, our Western Union Money Transfer Department will release the first payment of $5,000.00us (Five Thousand United State Dollars) Transfer MTCN Number to you, complied over the cost of Fund Ownership Certificate to enable our Western Union replace your name on the first payment.
Note: the only charge in receiving of this first payment is the cost of obtaining the Fund Ownership Certificate, contact our Western Union Mr. Tony White, he will direct best on how to get the needed Certificate.
When emailing, please use the (MTCN Number 3250-33) for our mutual convenience. Please make sure you ask for the working ID card of your contact Agent before further communication with Him.
Remember that once the Fund Ownership Certificate issue you will start receiving your daily payment per $5,000.00 till the total ($2.5M) Two Millions Five Hundred Thousands United State Dollars transfer to your name.
Mrs. Eucharia Jerome
(Note: If You Have Received This Email Before You Are Advised To Ignore This Message)