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What is a 419 Scam?

A letter/fax/e-mail is sent to a selected recipient (but in actual fact is sent to many recipients) making an offer that would result in a large pay off for the recipient (“victim”). The details vary and large amounts of money are usually involved. Whilst a vast majority of recipients do not respond to these requests, a very small percentage does, enough to make the fraud worthwhile. Invariably, the victims’ banking details as well as sums of money are said to be required in advance in order to facilitate the payment of the funds. Essentially, the promised money transfer never happens and in addition the fraudsters may use the victims’ banking details to withdraw money for themselves.

Some indications that this could be a 419 Scam:

  • Letter/e-mail/fax that sounds too good to be true.
  • The promise of large sums of money for little or no effort on your part.
  • The victim is requested to provide money upfront as a processing/administration fee.
  • The request usually contains a sense of urgency.
  • The victim does not know the person who has sent the letter/fax/e-mail.
  • The sender at times requests confidentiality.
  • The letter usually states that the victim has won a prize/lottery/inheritance.
  • Payments are requested to be made by moneygram.
  • Genuine companies’ letterheads are utilised to convince the victim of the authenticity of their request.

General trademarks of a 419 Scam:

  • The amount of money involved is always substantial, usually millions of dollars or pounds.
  • Letters are generally sent by someone claiming to be in a position of authority, such as a Government Official, Prince, Chief, Doctor, or the wife of a General, Barrister, Solicitor, Lawyer or Bank Official.
  • They may use emotional bribery, such as claiming someone has died or is suffering from an illness.
  • The impression is given that you alone have been contacted, but the reality is that the same e-mail/letter/sms/fax was sent to thousands of people.
  • You are always promised either all, or a substantial percentage, of the money in return for assisting the fraudster in some way.
  • You will almost certainly be asked to communicate by e-mail.

What should you do when you receive a 419 Scam?

  • If you receive a scam e-mail, do not reply.
  • You can, however, forward a copy of the e-mail to the Internet Service Provider from where the e-mail originated. For example:;; etc.
  • Forward the e-mail to the South African Police Services at
  • If you have fallen victim, immediately contact the South African Police Services.

Please note: Sasfin’s name is being used fraudulently in a 419 scam