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Scam letters and emails

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What is the 419 Scam?

The perpetrators of Advance Fee Fraud are often very creative and innovative. The scammers, purporting to be officials of their government or banking institutions, will fax or mail letters to individuals and businesses in the United States and other countries. The correspondence will inform the recipient that a reputable foreign company or individual is needed for the deposit of an overpayment on a procurement contract. The letter or email will claim that the government overpaid anywhere from $10 to $60 million on these contracts. The latest modified scam involves lotteries.

There is the perception that no one would enter such an obviously suspicious relationship; however, many victims have been enticed into believing they can share in such windfall profits.

Individuals are asked to provide funds to cover various fees and for personal identifiers such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, and other similar data. Once this information is received, the victims find that they have lost large sums of money. It is hard to pinpoint how much has been lost in these scams since many victims do not report their losses to authorities due to fear or embarrassment.


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

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.