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.
Click here to report a problem with this page.
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:
- "from the desk of" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "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. )
- "will come to you as a surprise" (a common phrase found in 419 scams)
- "united state dollar" (this email uses bad English)
- "cotonou" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- 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.
- email@example.com (email address has been used in a known fraud before)
Fraud email example:
From: WESTERN UNION OFFICE <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, 24 Sep 2021 03:27:43 -0700
Subject: Dear Email Owner/Fund Beneficiary
FROM THE DESK OF GENERAL MANAGER
WESTERN UNION PAYMENT HEADQUARTER
FINANCIAL BANK BENIN (DIV 012).
Cotonou-Rue de la BOA Cadjehoun
Tel: +229 53431109
Welcome to Western Union Head Office and this is to inform you that
usa president Joseph R. Biden has given the final order after
conference meeting held yesterday with the Kristalina
Georgieva.International Monetary Fund (I.M.F) compensating all the
scam victims with $6.500.000.00 USD here in Benin Republic (Six
Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars Only and your email address was
found in the scam victim's list. This Western Union head office has
been mandated by the International Monetary Fund (I.M.F) Director to
transfer your compensation fund to you via Western Union Money
Transfer Daily. The western union office here stated that you will be
receiving your fund $6.500.000.00 at the maximum of $5,000.00 daily
until the whole fund $6.500.000.00 is completely transferred to you.
to prove this right to you, your first installment payment of
$5,000.00 (Five Thousand United State Dollars) has been sent. We would
that you click on the link (
https://www.westernunion.com/global-service/track-transfer ) and
follow required, enter the (AUTHORIZATION OR REFERENCE) 605-908-3685 #
number and if you are having problem in picking up your first payment
of $5,000 kindly call this number +1(360) 505-0009 so that he will
release your first payment for you to pick it up at any western union
Senderâs First Name:-------KEVIN
Senderâs Last Name:------MARK
Senderâs Location:------- Seattle,Benin Republic
Amount sent:-------5,000,00 USD
If you prefer to receive your funds in form of an ATM Visa Card, we
could load and ship your ATM Visa Card to your address which will
permit you a daily withdrawal limit of 10,000 thousand dollars only
Remember we needed your full information where your second payments of
5,000.00 USD will be deposited to avoid wrong transfer such as,
Your Full Name:............................
Your Home Address:......................
Your Country/ City: .............................
Your Direct Phone Number:..........................
Your ID copy:............................
I know this will come to you as a surprise hearing your funds is
available for you to receive now after many years of struggling to
receiving your fund, Note that your payment files will be returned to
the I.M.F within 72 hours if we did not hear from you, this was the
instruction given to us by the IMF.
Western Union GABRIEL MIRACLE
direct cell phone number +229 53431109.
EMAIL ME HERE (email@example.com)
Western Union Money Transfer Agent Location, EMS Post Office.
Registered No: 1026167. Head Office: 125 Marina Street, Cotonou Benin
Du' Republic of Benin JAMES BROWN