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:
- An email address listed inside this email has been used in a known fraud before.
- 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. )
- "million united state dollars" (they want you to be blinded by the prospect of quick money, but the only money that ever changes hands in 419 scams is from you to the criminals)
- "hundred thousand united state dollars" (they want you to be blinded by the prospect of quick money, but the only money that ever changes hands in 419 scams is from you to the criminals)
- "united state dollar" (this email uses bad English)
- 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.
- 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.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: WESTERN UNION PAYMENT <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 25 Aug 2021 11:46:54 +0100
Subject: URGENT PAYMENT BY WESTERN UNION TRANSFER
now we have arranged your payment of ($1.5Million) One Million five
hundred thousand united state dollars in atm payment card to be sent to
you through western union money transfer payment: Your payment will
sending to you by western union, the amount you will receive per day is
The minister trust funds of Benin Republic will send you the currently
standards track details you need to pick up your ($10,000) payment by
western union, you will receive every day till you receive the $1.5Million
united state dollars, now no need to send you this atm card because you
can not be able to withdraw the atm card due to the atm master card
contain large money on it. The director administrtor trust funds have
already signed your payment, now you are free to comply with wemaco
payment office on this email:(firstname.lastname@example.org ) however,
kindly contact the below person who is in position to release
your payment by western union per $10,000 a day.
Mr Godwin Darry ,
western union department
Financial Bank Benin,
The financial western union payment canter has been mandated to issue out
your payment and you have to stop any further communication with any other
person(s) or office(s) to avoid any hitches in receiving your payment.
Note that the administrator payment need this details from you to process
Copy of your id.............
Comply now because as soon as you sent this required details to Mr Godwin
Darry he will start sending your payment by western union
Mrs. Amanda Alex
Through Western Union money transfer