Advance Fee Scams

Victims of advance fee scams pay money up front, after being promised a much larger payout by someone who claims to be in a position of authority. This is a prevalent form of internet fraud.

The advance payment may be described as a tax, commission or administrative fee that is required to secure the release of funds from a frozen investment, inheritance, contract, account or government treasury.

After the fraudsters receive the first up-front payment, they will make new demands for more money, often with elaborate explanations of personal hardship, and false promises of larger and larger profits.

When the victim finally becomes suspicious and refuses to make additional payments, the fraudsters will cut all contact and communication.

The scam will then be recreated and repeated under a different fictitious persona or stolen identity, and a new series of victims will be targeted through online dating sites, social media, or unsolicited emails.

These are also known as “419” scams, referring to the relevant section of the criminal code in Nigeria, where many of these schemes originate and run by organized gangs specializing in online fraud.

About the Author

John Powers is president of Hudson Intelligence, an investigative firm in New York that specializes in the investigation of fraud and financial crimes. He works with clients throughout the U.S. and internationally.

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Photo Caption: "Losing Hand" by Damian Gadal - CC BY 2.0