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South African Finance ministry sounds alarm on 419 scams

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The Minister of Finance and the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) have issued a warning to South Africans about bogus letters and emails which claim to be from the Minister and other senior public officials.

The scams use what looks like the logos of the FIC and other state institutions.

“The FIC is aware of these 419 scams and has for some time been running on its website ( a warning to the public against fraudulent schemes that purport to have the authority of the FIC, the Minister of Finance as well as other public officials.

“The FIC neither requires payments from anyone for its services, nor does it pay out funds to anyone,” National Treasury said in a statement.

The origins of these scam notices and how individuals were targeted was continuously being evolved by criminals.

If members of the public receive communication claiming to be from the FIC (or any other government department) that refers to payments to be made or to be received, Treasury warned that this was “clearly a scam” and they should not respond to it.

“Rather, they should report such communication at their nearest police station.”

The Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) is one of the seven institutions that report to the Ministry of Finance. The FIC is mandated to ensure the stability and integrity of the country’s financial system.

It coordinates South Africa’s framework to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism; and it provides the financial intelligence that is increasingly coming to the fore in the investigation of priority crimes.

Tips to recognise a scam:

  • The e-mail requestor asks for bank account information, credit card numbers, driver’s licence number, passport number, information about members of your family, and other personal information.
  • The e-mail advises that you have won a prize – even though you are not aware of having entered any competition run by the prize promoters.
  • The e-mail may be personally addressed to you but it has been posted using bulk mail sending facilities to many others locally and internationally.
  • Check the wording of the letter; you may notice spelling errors and exaggerations, which should alert you to the offer being too good to be true.
  • Logos of the organisations mentioned in the letter (such as the prize-givers) may not seem correct or professionally drafted.
  • The names of persons used as senders of the e-mails are common.