What is Advanced-fee Fraud?
Advance fee fraud or "The 419 (four-one-nine) fraud" as it's also known, is a method by which a fraudster attempts to trick you into supplying 'up-front' money to secure your involvement in their specified transaction. There are many variations of this type of fraud.
How does Advance-fee ('419') Fraud work?
- You would first receive an unsolicited communication (e.g. fax, email, letter or website) concerning an individual, business or government entity wanting to get money out of the country.
- These communications (e.g. websites, letters, emails or faxes) often look very similar to those of a reputable institution.
- The fraudster then contacts you directly offering to transfer money into your bank account in exchange for a small fee.
- If you respond to the initial offer, you may receive "official looking" documents to complete. Typically, you are then asked to provide a blank letterhead and your bank account details, in addition to money to cover the transaction, transfer costs and attorney's fees.
- The fraudster will then quickly move your money to an offshore account and then move on to their next victim.
How to recognise Advance-fee ('419') fraud letters
- They generally include requests for "up-front" money to secure your involvement in their transaction. Hence the name: "advanced fee fraud."
- They are generally marked "urgent" or "confidential"
- Often they promise millions of dollars for your help, once the transaction is completed.
- They always have a scheme or reason for contacting you, examples include:
-An inheritance that is tied-up
-Diamonds in boxes that they need to get out of the country
-Millions of dollars in boxes that they need to get out of the country
-Money "frozen" by government
-Excess oil or other merchandise
- Most 419-fraudsters present themselves as individuals such as doctors, lawyers, sons of ex-generals and other important persons, to trick you into thinking they are respectable and trustworthy individuals.
- They are always seeking a foreign "partner" to help them.
- They will ask for personal information about you, such as:
-personal or business letterhead
-personal telephone number.
What should you do if you suspect a 419 scam?
Delete the email. The email, although it may look like it is addressed specifically to you, will have been sent to many people.