Frauds and Scams

Advanced Fee Frauds

AFFs often (but not exclusively) originate from parts of Africa. Nigeria is notorious for this type of scam, so much so that AFFs are often called ‘419 Schemes’ or ‘419 scams’ after Section 4.1.9 of the Nigerian penal code. Common characteristics of an AFF scheme include:

  • An individual or company receives a communication (e-mail, letter or fax) from a purported ‘official’ representing a foreign government agency. They will often claim to be a senior civil servant in one of the Nigerian Ministries, usually the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
  • The fraudster offers to transfer millions of pounds into the victim’s personal bank account, claiming that the funds have come from projects that have been ‘over-invoiced’ or that they are excess funds from a previous political regime and cannot be accounted for.
  • The ‘pay-off’ is that the victim is offered a percentage of these funds for their trouble, often amounting to thousands or even millions of pounds.
  • The perpetrator will induce a sense of urgency and stress the need for secrecy.
  • Victims are often encouraged to travel to the source country to complete the transaction and are asked to pay various fees for the trip.
  • Victims are nearly always asked to provide blank company letterhead, bank account information, telephone/fax numbers etc.
  • Fraudsters will often send official-looking documents with seemingly authentic stamps, seals and logos – all designed to enhance the authenticity of the deal.
  • Sooner or later the victim will be asked to provide up-front or advance fees for various taxes, legal costs, transaction costs or bribes.

Other variants of the AFF scheme include property ventures and offers of low-cost oil.

What Can You Do?

If you receive a message that you suspect is an AFF scheme or variant, do not respond. Even a tentative response will induce rapid, pressured communication, which will only prolong the correspondence. Some police forces ask that such communications be forwarded to them, so it is worth seeking advice from your local police force.

© Crown Copyright. URN 05/623; 01/05

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