Fraud Prevention

How to avoid becoming a victim of Advance Fee or '419' Fraud

  • Advance fee fraud is also known as ‘419’ fraud after the relevant section of the Nigerian Criminal Code.
  • It is a payment ‘up front’ fraud with a promise of wealth or employment to follow – it is a scam!
  • It is an increasingly popular crime within organised crime networks – nationally and internationally.
  • The stakes and profits for the criminals are high.
  • Advance fee fraud has been happening for centuries – it is a confidence trick!

How does it work?

  • There are a vast number of scams and fraudsters will use any means, phone, mail or email to contact their targets.
  • Fraudsters will have a seemingly plausible story – often purporting to be company directors or executives, legal representatives or doctors – in an attempt to convince an unsuspecting target that their claims are genuine.
  • The correspondence will often be made to look like an official document in order to give more credibility to the story.
  • The fraudster usually describes a possible ‘mutual business interest’ and explains that the addressee has been contacted in confidence.
  • The correspondence goes on to describe one of many scenarios – but with promises that the writer is prepared to share a vast wealth in return for cash up front to cover administrative costs or personal and / or banking details.

They are scams designed to encourage victims to part with their money. 

What should you do if you receive an advance fee fraud letter or email?

  • Do not respond under any circumstances – you may end up on a ‘suckers list’ and become a bigger target for scammers and fraudsters
  • Do not send money
  • Do not send personal or financial details to people you do not know

If you have already become embroiled in a scam – seek advice. There are a number of websites with more information; 

For further help read our section on Action Fraud which is the UK’s national fraud reporting centre.

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Think - is it a scam? If it sounds too good to be true - then it generally is!