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Scam letters and emails


What is the 419 Scam?

An advance-fee scam is a type of fraud and one of the most common types of confidence trick. The scam typically involves promising the victim a significant share of a large sum of money, which the fraudster requires a small up-front payment to obtain. If a victim makes the payment, the fraudster either invents a series of further fees for the victim, or simply disappears.

There are many variations on this type of scam, including 419 scam. The scam has been used with fax and traditional mail, and is now prevalent in online communications like emails.

More on advance fee scam


What you can do if you receive a Scam/ 419 email or letter

  • Please refrain from responding to these type of e-mails. Kindly forward all 419 scam e-mails/correspondence directly to hq.commercial@saps.org.za  (Commercial Branch, South African Police Service). Please mention whether or not you have incurred any financial loss. 

  • In response to this growing epidemic, the U.S. Secret Service established Electronic Crimes Task Forces (ECTFs)  to target Advance Fee Fraud. Indications are that losses attributed to Advance Fee Fraud are in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually. You can forward the email with its Internet header at nyectf@usss.dhs.gov  or send it by fax to (718) 840-1229.

  • If you receive such a scam by mail, do not respond. Either throw it away or send it to:

US Postal Service Inspection Service Operations Support Group
Two Gateway Center, 9th Floor
Newark, NJ 07175-0001

Those who have lost money to the fraud should call their local US Secret Service.


How to Get an Email's Internet Header

Microsoft Outlook: You can obtain the Internet header of an email by right clicking on the message in your inbox and choosing option.  Highlight the entire header, copy and paste it into a new message and send it to 419.fcd@usss.treas.gov or nyectf@usss.dhs.gov.

In Outlook Express: You can obtain the Internet header of an email by right clicking on the message in your inbox and choosing details.  Highlight the entire header, copy and paste it into a new message and send it to 419.fcd@usss.treas.gov or nyectf@usss.dhs.gov.