Soldiering on: the $5.6 million 419 scam

419 scams most commonly drop into your mailbox, but they do occasionally appear via other channels such as snail mail and social media. Today we’re going to take a look at an angle seemingly beloved of scammers everywhere – a specific character type clung to down the years for no other reason than to cheat people out of their money. That character would happen to be “awesome UN peacekeeper with inexplicable access to millions of dollars because reasons”.

The name used tends to be drawn from a small pool, alongside a specific selection of rotated photographs to “prove” the identity of the fictitious soldier. Quite often, those photographs – and occasionally names – are of genuine soldiers lifted from military news and interview sites. It doesn’t matter what avenue the scammers decide to roll with – email, social media, dating profiles – this specific approach is a popular one, and they stick to it like glue.

What we have below is the closest thing possible to a default scam character in a 419 videogame.

Our first UN peacekeeping soldier with access to a huge chunk of cash comes in the form of “Victoria”, who is one of the alter-egos for this particular fakeout. Should you follow certain spammy looking Twitter feeds with your account, you’ll probably receive the below DM:

twitter spam

Hello my dear, My name is Victoria I am single woman, I hope all is well   with you? I am a soldier who works as a United Nations peace        keeping     troops in Iraq, the war against terrorism. I have in my possession  the    sum of $ 5.6 million dollars I made here in  Iraq. I deposited his  money   with an agent of the Red Cross  because of   the     law of the United    Nations. I want my stand as  beneficiary  to receive   the fund  and keep  it   safe because I do  not trust  the  Red Cross agent. I want  you to help  me   and keep  the money  in  your savings   account so that as  soon as they  are    through  with my    mission here in   Iraq, I will come to  you to meet   face   to  face  and   get to know. I’ll   give you 50% of the  total  money  for  your  assistance after you   receive the money. please   reply  to me, if  you    are   willing to work   with me so that I can  send   you more     information on  which  the money   was to keep the  Red  Cross  Agent.Your urgent response is highly necessary. Best   regards thanks alot contact  me with my email

Here’s an example of the same scam arriving by email, and below is an example of it popping up on a dating site:

dating profile

The text from the above profile reads as follows:

I hope all is well with you? I am a soldier working as United Nations peace keeping troop in Iraq, on war against terrorism. I have in my possession the sum of 5.6 million USD Which I made here in Iraq. I deposited this money with a Red Cross agent because of the law of UN. I want you to stand as my beneficiary to receive the fund and keep it safe because I don’t trust Red Cross agent. I want you to help me and keep the money save in your account so that as soon as am through with my mission here in Iraq, I will come over to you for us to meet face to face and know each other. I will give you 50 of the total money for your assistance after you have received the money. Please reply back to me here via Email: if you are willing to work with me so that i can send you more information where the money is been keeps by the Red Cross Agent. Your urgent reply is highly needed.

Let’s see…Red Cross, UN, Iraq, millions of dollars…yep, we have a match.

In many situations, members of the military may have the green light to deal with classified documents; unfortunately, one of our clones was a bit confused and ended up in the Bangalore classified ads instead:

classified spam


Scammers have marched their work of fiction from Iraq to Syria, also she’s now Russian because of course she is. I’m going to guess that any email response would probably involve the UN, Red Cross and a large pile of money.

Elsewhere, one of our clones expresses a love for the photography section of National Geographic.

We even found a whole platoon on Skype:

mercy on skype

There are many more variations on this theme across the net, from social networking to random forum comments. The trick is to ignore / block / delete them all and go about your business. There are no secret millions waiting for you in Iraq, or anywhere else for that matter. Scammers are happy to play on the good reputation of your armed forces and convince you to indulge in a spot of “What could possibly go wrong”.

Unfortunately for anyone reeled in, the answer is “quite a lot, actually“.

Don’t fall for it.

Christopher Boyd


Christopher Boyd

Former Director of Research at FaceTime Security Labs. He has a very particular set of skills. Skills that make him a nightmare for threats like you.