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Advance fee fraud

Advance fee fraud

Criminals use the internet to send messages to trap new victims and get new opportunities to earn through unsuspecting web users. The target is asked to make payment in advance for some service or goods to access loans for any of the following - buying property, career, psychic service, joining a dating or romance sites, recovering lost money in fraud, claiming lottery or inheritance money, vehicle matching or impersonation by scammers as tax or police personnel. 

If you are trying to get a loan for a house or a car, they ask to meet the provider to get the financing arrangement and pay the finder's fee in advance to secure the loan; alternatively, they offer to pay for introducing to the person who will provide the deposits for buying a property and ask you to submit your bank details. 

Likewise, people searching for a property on rent may be asked to pay a deposit to view the property. In addition, they ask the victim to pay for the legal formalities related to property transfer or renting before showing the property. 

One of the commonest is the 419 code, a criminal code in Nigeria that deals with such a scam. A letter, email or fax is directed to the victims with elaborate messages that include reasons why the victims' assistance is needed to get cash out of the country, and those who read the mail are asked to give their bank details and an upfront fee for a large amount of money they will get in their account. 

But no money is transferred to the user account, and the criminals get access to your funds, your bank and personal details. 

They offer work from home opportunities and ask the client to pay some money to get the educational material to learn a skill or set up the business online. 

They offer registration forms to get all the details of the person who wants to join, like their name, address, emails and bank details. They may ask the client to view the presentation or marketing material before starting their work, or they want to fill up a survey to join. 

They may send bogus online marketing material with multiple filling-ups, often based on pyramid selling schemes. They pay a very small percentage of money to fill hundreds of surveys, and it is often very difficult to claim the earnings. Sometimes, they disappear after getting the registration details from the users, which they sell to cyber fraudsters. 

In case of a lottery prize draw, they ask the winner to contact someone at the lottery firm, and the target is asked to deposit a small amount of money to claim the prize money, which cannot be disbursed before they get all the details about the winners and a small deposit, as the disbursement fee. 

They collect the bank details of the targets to defraud them later on through other frauds, or they ask the client to pay taxes, legal fees and banking fees into their account to claim the prize money. 

They impersonate government officials and ask the victim to pay unpaid taxes of previous years or the past decade, or they offer to get you a refund on taxes by paying a fee. 

Those keen on gambling are offered racing tips scams where they get marketing material related to such offers where they can put their money on gambling with an assurance to win. Also, they offer tips to win where they claim to get money back if the victim does not win. 

Vehicle matching scams happen when they try to find a buyer or the seller for the victim's car, and they ask the victim to deposit some funds upfront to claim the gains through vehicle transactions.

Many rogue traders knock on your door and try to tell you that your house needs fixing. They may appear to do some of the work, but the bills start coming in, and the amount of money you are asked to pay for it increases abruptly. 

How To Protect Yourself?

  • Often, the opportunity comes out of the blue and appears too good to be true.

  • Do not send money to people you meet online. Such firms do not have actual street addresses and may not even have a direct telephone line. Verify their contact details to ensure reliability.

  • Know who you are dealing with. Try to meet people or the company in person and conduct due diligence. Find out information related to the offer from the local attorney or police.

  • They often use complex terms in the agreement, so when you find unclear contracts with hidden messages – get a professional review of such contracts before paying.

  • Be wary of deals that require you to sign non-disclosure or non-circumvention agreements often designed to restrict you from verifying the integrity of the individuals with whom you intend to do business.


Advance fee fraud can include:


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Types of fraud

A-Z of fraud

To help understand which fraud you've been affected by, we've categorised them into an alphabetical list.

What is fraud and cyber crime?

Cybercrimes can be of two types. First, it can be cyber dependent, where the fraudsters use online devices to convince the victim to accept their offers.

Advance fee fraud

If you are trying to get a loan for a house or a car, they ask to meet the provider to get the financing arrangement and pay the finder's fee in advance.

Corporate fraud

Corporate frauds can be complicated, committed either by the firm or an individual. Nevertheless, it mostly involves cheating where the employee or the firm.

Individual fraud

There are many types of individual frauds related to advance fees, investments, insurance brokers, bogus tradespeople, Ponzi schemes, pension liberation.

Online fraud

Hence the number of cases of online fraud is increasing each year, and most such cases include – account takeover, direct frauds, or scams related domain names.

Identity fraud and identity theft

The criminal uses the stolen identity of another person living or deceased to conduct unlawful activities like obtaining goods or services in another's name.
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