IN.gov - Skip Navigation

Note: This message is displayed if (1) your browser is not standards-compliant or (2) you have you disabled CSS. Read our Policies for more information.

Secretary of State

SOS > Media Center >  Press Releases > 2004 Press Releases > For Immediate Release: February 18, 2004 Rokita Warns Hoosiers of Age-Old Scam Gone High-Tech

Contact: Cam Savage
317-232-6533
Media@sos.in.gov

"419" Scam Promises Multi-Million Dollar Windfall



Indianapolis, IN -- Secretary of State Todd Rokita today warned Hoosiers about an e-mail and mail scam circulating widely in Indiana and across the country. The scam is known internationally as "4-1-9" fraud after the section of the Nigerian penal code which addresses fraud schemes.

The most prevalent and successful form of the "4-1-9" scam is the fund transfer scam. In this scheme, a company or individual will receive an unsolicited letter or e-mail from a Nigerian claiming to be a senior civil servant. In the letter, the solicitor will inform the recipient that he is seeking a reputable foreign company or individual into whose account he can deposit funds ranging from $10-$60 million.

Although recent versions of this scam have frequently used the country of Nigeria, other African and European countries have been the points of origin of similar scams since at least the 1970s. E-mail is just the latest form of solicitation used in this scam. Faxes and hand-written letters have been used to solicit targets.

"As is the case with most scams, the perpetrators rely on greed. Always remember that if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is," Rokita said. "You should be particularly cautious if the offer is unsolicited and comes from another country or by e-mail."

If you have received an e-mail or letter requesting assistance in transferring funds from a foreign country into the United States, it is likely that you are one of the many individuals solicited by a potential perpetrator of the "4-1-9" scam. Please forward any e-mail or letter like this to the United States Secret Service (http://www.secretservice.gov/). The US Secret Service has three field offices in Indiana:

  • Evansville: 812-858-7365
  • Indianapolis: 317-226-6444
  • South Bend: 219-273-3140


If you have been in continuous contact with someone that may be operating this scam, cease contact immediately. Do not send the person any personal identification or account information. It is always extremely important that you research any opportunity before handing over your money or personal information. If you have already sent this information and feel that you are now at risk, there are steps you make take to protect yourself:

  • Speak to your bank or credit union about steps you need to take to protect your account - this may include canceling your current account and setting up a new one.

  • If you have provided personal identification information that you feel is now at risk, contact the Social Security Administration fraud hotline at 1-800-269-0271. You may report fraud via the web at http://www.ssa.gov/oig/guidelin.htm. The Social Security Administration will be able to direct you on the steps to take to put a red flag on your identification information.

  • If you have given any credit card numbers that you feel are at risk, please contact your credit card services division. This department will likely be able to cancel or watch for suspicious activity on your current account.


Any other general complaints regarding the "4-1-9" scam should be directed to the United States Secret Service Agency at one of the numbers listed above. The U.S. Secret Service advisory regarding the "4-1-9" scams can be found at http://www.secretservice.gov/criminal.shtml.