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 Advanced-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 Advanced-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
- banking information
- 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.