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. )
- "high court" (Barristers (lawyers) mentioned in 419 scams are always fake.)
- "federal high court" (This court is often mentioned in '419' scams to give the victim a reason why he/she should send thousands of dollars to the scammers. A 'Federal High Court' exists in Germany and Nigeria, but not in other countries, such as the UK, Spain, Netherlands, Senegal, Benin, South Africa or other countries where fake lawyers in scams often claim to be based. )
- 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: western union <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2023 01:24:02 -0700
ATTENTION DEAR CUSTOMER
This is to bring to your notice that our western union bureau have
received a correspondence from the federal high court as cancellation
notice for your ($4.5) Four Million Five Hundred Thousand USD funds
transfer to be deleted from foreign payment file .The western union
management desires to inform you that your funds transfer with us has
been programmed among the five (5) transactions that would face
We have waited long time enough for you to fulfill the required
obligations and claim the funds like other beneficiaries that have
claimed their funds before ( ENDING LAST MONTH) but nothing comes up
from you as indication from the funds owner.
The management of this western union held an urgent meeting in my
office today, regards to the transferring of your funds by western
union and they have asked my office to submit all the paper works and
files containing your funds confidentiality but i refused and asked
the board members to give me from now till 3days time so that i will
consult you personally for you to declare your interest on the funds
Further more, you are advised to reply to this email after reading,
and feel free to tell us why you abandoned such huge amount here, let
us know if you are no longer interested to complete your transaction.
Finally, if you still have the interest of being paid your funds by
western union money transfer; you should kindly forward your full
information such as below immediately
Your Receiverâs Name
Your Telephone number
i am looking forward to your positive cooperation fairly soon.