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. )
- 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: Western Union Office <email@example.com>
Reply-To: Western Union Office <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2017 18:18:58 +0000 (UTC)
Subject: Attention E-mail Address Owner,
Attention E-mail Address Owner,
Sequel to the first edition 2017 meeting held today with Federal Bureau of Investigation, The International Monetary Fund IMF is compensating all the scam victims and your name and email address was found in the scam victims list. This Western Union office has been mandated by the IMF to transfer your compensation to you via Western Union Money Transfer.
However, we have concluded to effect your payment through Western Union Money Transfer, $5,000 twice per day until your total sum of $850,000.00 is completely transferred to you. We have made your first payment this morning but your payment file need to activate before you will pick up the payment today and it will cost you $85 only to activate your payment file.
THIS IS YOUR FIRST PAYMENT INFORMATION:
SENDERS NAME: HENRY MOORE
SENDERS COUNTRY: BENIN REPUBLIC
TEXT QUESTION: IN GOD
TEXT ANS: WE TRUST
Note that your payment files will be returned to the IMF within 72 hours if we did not hear from you, this was the instruction given to us by the IMF.
Tel phone +229 67 98 85 31
Director Western Union Money Transfer Head Office Benin Republic