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: "Mr. Brent Fischer" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, 26 Jun 2021 10:36:30 -0700
Subject: Pick up your MTCN Number___ 740 064 3290
Your Attention Is Needed
I write to inform you that we have already sent you $5,200.00 dollars
through Western Union as we have been given the mandate to transfer your
full compensation payment total sum of USD950,000.00 via western Union by
was calling your telephone number to give you the information through the
phone but you did not pick up my calls throughout yesterday, even this
morning. Now, I decided to email you the MTCN and sender name so that you
will pick up this $5,200.00 to enable us to send another $5,200.00 today as
you know we will be sending you only $5,200.00 per day.
Please pick up this information and run to western union to pick up the
$5,200.00 and call me back to send you another payment today, My direct
phone line is +229 69520954
once you picked up this $5,200.00 today. Here is the western union
information to pick up the $5,200.00,
Senderâs First Name____Brent
Senders Second Name____Fischer
Senders Country BENIN REPUBLIC
MTCN Number___ 740 064 3290
I am waiting for your call once you pick up this $5,200.00. Please email me
your direct telephone number because I need to be calling you once we send
any payment for the information
Mr. Brent Fischer