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. )
- 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: " MR. James Benson" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 17 Aug 2021 00:28:02 -0600
Subject: YOUR URGENT REPONSE NEEDED.
I am bringing this notice to you today that today is the last day i
will contact you for this fund. We have signed and sealed all the
papers related to this delivery to you that we should return this atm
card worth $1.5m to Federal Treasury Department. I am no more waiting
for you for this delivery but bear it in mind that if you still want
this atm card to be deliverd to your house that you should rush now
and send this last fee of $35 and have your atm card deliverd to you.
Failure to send the fees today, then forget about this atm card
because by tomorrow, it will be government own. Do not blame me for
anything as i have waited too much.
If you are blocked from using western union or money gram then go and
buy iTunes card and send. Make sure you do it today if you really want
your atm card but failure to do it today then you will lose your
funds. I have tried and can not continue waiting or writing you day by
I swear If I fail to release your payment after you send the $35.00 as
I promise don't count on me again, I cannot fail you, I promise you
donât fear as soon as you send the $35.00 today please leave the rest
to me and see if I am lying to you because I can not use my life swear
because of $35.00, how can I swear against my life because of this
small amount? it is to show you that I am telling you the truth.
So you are advised to go right now to the Walmart and get me iTunes
card of $35 so that i can proceed and get everything done Asap
I promise you as soon as i hear from you with the payment of $35
iTunes card. Today i shall send your pick up information the same day
you send the $35.00 iTunes card I swear
MR. James Benson
YOUR URGENT REPONSE NEEDED.