Internet Scams in South Africa: 'Nigerian 419' scams
scams, sometimes known as 419 email scams or 419 fraud is an example of an advance fee fraud, where someone is
enticed to pay “refundable” money into a professed Nigerian bank account. These schemes, common in South Africa,
are not only financially devastating, but potentially life threatening.
419 is the number given to the Nigerian penal code, on matters relating to fraudulent schemes.
Nigeria has suffered decades of fraud and corruption and in many cases this is given as the reason for the need to
bypass the corrupt channels, in order to get money into the country.
Nigeria and often African countries in a whole a branded with a perception of reigning fraud and
corruption as a result of scams such as the 419 advance fee fraud. This has a global impact on the image of any
African country including that of South Africa.
The 419 fraud scam is initiated by sending mass messages, by means of letters, faxes or emails.
The sender of the message is usually purported to be a person of high standing in government or of royal descent.
The correspondence will usually state that such person is the recipient of an outrageous amount of money acquired
from a very plausible source. The sender requires the assistance of a third party in order to receive such money
and would they please contact him by means indicated in the letter.
A gullible victim would then reply to the 419 scammer and be provided with very compelling
credentials and proof bearing official stamps. The format may contain following elements: utmost confidentiality is
required; money would be split in given ways, allocating a generous chunk to the bank account holder. Often contact
numbers, bank account details or blank company letters are requested from the person hoping to gain from the
Further correspondence normally leads to a request to deposit an amount of money to cover
expenses such as taxes, attorney costs, bribes, transaction fees etc. Upon payment, in order to complete the
transaction the beneficiary is required to pay more, in last minute expenses and eventually travel to Nigeria to
complete the transaction. It would be added that no visa is required for entrance into the country.
Entrance into Nigeria may be declined as a result of not having a visa, but even upon successful
entry by means of dodging the law with bribes or such, illegal entry may be used by the fraudsters to coerce more
money out of the victim. There have been cases of tourists being murdered or reported missing as a result of 419
419 frauds are potentially dangerous and should be recognised and avoided. Always be weary and
suspicious of any situation which may be a form of advance fee fraud. Report any solicitation attempt to the
authorities, but do not repond or engage in any correspondence with a suspected 419 fraudster.
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