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:
- "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. )
- "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.
- email@example.com (AOL; can be used from anywhere worldwide)
Fraud email example:
From: "United Bank for Africa" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, 28 Jun 2019 16:54:41 +0300
Subject: Urgent Attention Needed
United Bank for Africa
Akpakpka, Benin Republic
As the last working day of the month, we hereby inform you what Nigerian
Government told us to inform you. With the Power given to me by the
Government of Nigeria to contact you about your fund which is with us
which you are abandoning here because of one thing or the other. They have
informed us that we shall transfer this $35.5m back to Government of
Nigeria Account if you fail today to send this fees $125. Once today is
over, you are loosing your total sum of $35.5m because of $125. This is
the Order given to us by Government of Nigeria and if you prefer to loose
your fund because of $125 no problem
Therefore, i am using this opportunity to inform you that you have to try
and send this fees today before the day runs out because ifou fail to send
it then you will loose your total fund of $35.5m. Do not allow your fund
to be transfer back to Government Account because of $125. If you don't
have it then go and borrow to send it today. This is urgently needed
Send the fees through western union but if you can not use western union
then buy iTunes card and send.
Receiver name: Ubonso Chinedu
Text Answer: How
Give me the MTCN Number after the payment.
We thank you for choosing this bank
Mr Oscar Carter Jr
United Bank for Africa
Benin Republic Cotonou