Advance Fee Fraud Scam Letters & Lottery Scams

The so-called Nigerian Letter Scam is intrinsically an advance fee fraud. The fraud is also known as the “419 scam” and is operated by a fraudster, usually a member of a criminal syndicate. These scams originated from Nigeria but syndicates of other countries have become involved in advance fee fraud scams.

The scam is initiated with the fraudster contacting a targeted company, either by fax, mail or e-mail. A business proposal is made, usually by a syndicate posing as senior government officials. The fraudsters claim that they are in possession of a large amount of over-budgeted money, usually American dollars. The proposal entails the transfer of the over-budgeted money to a bank account outside of the country where the scam originates, which is that of the targeted company. The person receiving the correspondence is generally promised between 20 to 35 percent of the money to be transferred as commission for the use of his/her bank account.

The money is obtained from the victim in a number of ways, such as:

* Requesting the victim to deposit money into a specified bank account to help cover expenses for completing the deal;

* Once the original fee has been paid, “complications” may arise which necessitate the payment of more fees;

* Organising a meeting in certain countries and, once the victim is in the said country, his passport is confiscated and he/she is detained until sufficient payment is received;

* Using the bank details on official letterheads to transfer money out of the victim’s bank account and into an account under the control of the criminals.

A lottery scam is initiated by the fraudster contacting individuals randomly, normally by e-mail. The fraudster poses as an official of a Lottery Company and advises the individual that he/she won a lottery to which the individual never purchased a ticket. The winning numbers are quoted in the correspondence and although the Lottery Company to which the fraudster claims to belong may exist and the numbers be the winning numbers (these are published by the Company), this is a scam. The same methods are used as with the 419 scam to extract money from the intended victim.

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