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:
- "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.
- 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: Ambassador Patricia Mahoney <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sun, 19 Dec 2021 01:41:41 +0100
Subject: SCAM VICTIM COMPENSATION $6.5M USD RELEASE
This is from the American Embassy Cotonou, Benin-Republic. We wish to
inform you that we received a compensation fund worth $6.5M USD only
from the Federal Government of Benin-Republic here as compensation to
you for what you went through in the name of their country. Having
being a scam victim here, the Government has mandated us to forward the
compensation fund to you and also apologize to you for everything you
have gone through in the hands of impostors all in the name of Benin.
You are thereby instructed to e-mail back and state how you wish to
receive your funds immediately.
Kindly re-confirm the following
7: How much you lost to the impostors:
I hope to read from you soon.
Yours in Service
Ambassador Patricia Mahoney.
U.S Ambassador to Benin.
Direct Tel: 60702580.
WhatsApp Number +22960702580
Embassy e-mail: email@example.com