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Beware the 419 Scams

By July 26, 2021October 3rd, 2023FinGlobal

Beware the 419 Scams

July 26, 2021


As a South African or citizen of the world, you have undoubtedly come across a few online scams. Maybe you have even been victim to one. Moving to another country doesn’t exempt you from scams and con-artists lists. In fact, you may face even more risks! Today, we’re going to talk about 419 scams that will find you wherever you are in the world! One of the first cons to flourish on the internet is the 419 scam or the “Nigerian Prince” scam. Although they can come from anywhere globally, the first wave came from Nigeria. They got the name 419 scams because they violate Section 419 of the Nigerian Criminal Code.


419 scams

What is 419 fraud?

The 419 fraud or 419 scam definition involves an advance fee fraud or form of upfront payment or money transfer scam. It’s known as an advance fee scam because the victim is requested to make advance payments to process the release of funds from a foreign bank or country.

Scammers often pose as people of wealth and position who need to get vast sums of money out of their country and urgently request your assistance. They promise that you’ll get a sizeable share, but you have to make an upfront payment first.

Others may request your banking details in addition to the funds under the guise of processing your promised reward. But once you’ve paid, they’ll either disappear or use your bank details to withdraw funds from your account.


Types of 419 scams

419 scams are very creative and come in different versions. The fraud has a long history that predates the digital age and goes back hundreds of years. By 1898, the New York Times warned its readers of a similar scam known as the Spanish Prisonerscam.

The fraudster tells you he’s in prison and has a large amount of money he can’t get his hands on. He would then ask for a smaller amount to access the cash, and in return, he’ll give a big reward that never comes.

Today, an advance fee fraud can come from anywhere and involve different scenarios. The Spanish prisoner or Nigerian prince will now be a Syrian banker or US soldier stuck in the Middle East. Other common 419 scams include:

  • You receive a message or email saying you’ve won a prize or lottery or you’ve inherited a considerable sum of money and need to contact someone. You’re then asked to make a payment for administration fees or taxes to release the funds.
  • You’re asked to help facilitate a financial transaction or business, and in return, you get enormous sums for your help. The catch is that you have to cover some of the initial costs to facilitate the transaction.
  • You’re asked to pay for goods upfront or pay a deposit when buying goods online.
  • You apply for a job, get called to an interview, and once you ‘get the job,’ you’re asked to pay for placement fees or background checks.


Signs that could indicate it’s a 419 scam

There are a few telltale signs that you’re dealing with a 419 scam, and here they are:

  • You receive an unsolicited phishing email from someone claiming to be in a position of authority like a government official, lawyer, solicitor, or bank official.
  • The email promises a share of large sums of money in exchange for helping get the money out of the sender’s home country.
  • The offer involves profits from natural resources or an inheritance they want to protect from a corrupt government or taxes.
  • The email or message is in a very polite tone and is often in broken English.
  • A request is made to provide money upfront as a processing or administration fee. Such requests usually contain a sense of urgency.
  • You’re promised large sums of money for little to no effort on your part.
  • The sender may request confidentiality and that you make payments through a money transfer service.


General characteristics of 419 scams

All 419 scams have a few things in common. Some of them are:

  • The amount promised is substantial, in millions of dollars or pounds.
  • The impression is given that you alone have been contacted.  The truth is that the email has been sent to multiple people.
  • It sounds too good to be true.
  • Emotional bribery is used to tell you sad stories about why they can’t transfer the money or claim someone has died or is suffering from an illness.
  • Letterheads of genuine companies are used to convince you of the authenticity of the request.
  • You’re asked to send personal or banking information to ‘process your reward.’


How to avoid being scammed online

Protecting yourself is important, and you can only do that if you know what to look out for. Below are a few pointers to keep in mind.

  • Be very skeptical of any promise of a huge payoff for your cooperation in a money transfer scheme. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Always remember there are no genuine get rich quick schemes. The only people who make money are the scammers.
  • Don’t reply to emails or any form of communication, even out of curiosity, from someone you don’t know claiming to be a foreign official and needs help transferring large sums of money. Scammers will use your emotions to get what they want.
  • Never provide your personal or financial information to anyone making such claims.
  • Never agree to send money through wire transfers, international fund transfers, cash reload cards, or cryptocurrencies to strangers who approach you online.
  • Never agree to transfer money for someone else. Money laundering is a criminal offense.
  • Don’t let the fact that an email sounds or looks genuine trick you. If someone claims to be from a particular organization or bank, verify their identity by calling the relevant organization directly from an independent source. Don’t use the contacts on the email.
  • Always perform internet searches of the names, exact wording, or contact details of the email to check for scam references. Many 419 scams can be identified this way.
  • Never pay fees upfront or make deposits to anyone selling goods online unless they’re reputable suppliers. Always check for reviews and insist on payment on delivery.

Remember to always stay vigilant for advance fee frauds and 419 scams that dangle ‘pennies from heaven’ if you provide financial information or money upfront.


Avoid the financial scams – use a reliable and trustworthy financial emigration partner

419 scams aren’t the only thing that should be at the forefront of your mind when leaving SA. One of the first things you need to consider when moving abroad is your finances. Your tax obligations and what you’re entitled to do with your money overseas all come into play when you choose to leave the country. Believe it or not, you cannot just up and leave. You have to inform SARS of your intentions so that they can determine how to tax you, if at all. There are also measures in place to hold back your pension or retirement for three years if you choose to leave the country.

To ensure you have the best possible financial and tax emigration process, it’s important to partner with a reliable and trustworthy emigration partner.

Need more information advice? Get in touch with us. You can give us a call on +27 28 312 2764 or email us at today.


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