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. )
- "money gram" (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. )
- "your urgent reply" (scammers rush victims so they don't have time to think properly)
- 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.
Fraud email example:
From: "Notification From Western Union/Funds Payment Committee" (may be fake)
Date: Wed, 14 Apr 2021 00:40:03 -0700
Subject: Notification From Western Union/Funds Payment Committee
Following a joint investigation by the Federal Reserve Bank and the FBI at the database of various banks, Western Union, Money Gram, Visa and Master Card Companies, airports security vaults to find out why so many funds and payments have remained unclaimed, your name and details appeared as the beneficiary of an unclaimed/unpaid US$ 4,591, 000 (Four Million Five Hundred and Ninety One Thousand US Dollars Only).
The investigation also revealed that you have tried so hard to receive fund and have also paid so much fees and charges to receive this funds but was not successful due to so many irregularities and bad documents presented for the release of this payment to you. The good news now is that these irregularities have been rectified and cleared, the payment documents authenticated and your payment have now been approved for immediate payment to you.
Based on this investigation and subsequent approval of this payment, your US$ 4,591, 000 (Four Million Five Hundred and Ninety One Thousand US Dollars Only) is now ready for immediate payment release to you upon proper verification of your details to ensure your details matches the details as we have on the payment documents available. This fund is ready for instant payment to you.
In line with this payment directive, The Committee on Unpaid and Unclaimed Funds have been authorized and mandated by the FBI, the Federal Reserve Bank, the Treasury and all other government authorities involved to ensure speedy verification of beneficiary details and instant processing and payment of these funds to the respective beneficiaries once the beneficiaries details are verified to be genuine.
To enable you to receive this payment, send your details as follows:
1. Full Names
2. Contact address
3. Mobile/cell phone number
4. Age, Sex
We await your urgent reply.
Chair, Funds Payment Committee
Federal Reserve Bank Building, Atlanta GA