Advance fee fraud – paying money for a promise of wealth (419 Fraud)

Advance Fee Fraud involves a payment in advance for a promise of wealth (419 Fraud), wills, gifts, prizes or employment. They contact their targets by mail, phone, fax, or email.

This type of scam, originally known as the "Spanish Prisoner Letter", has been carried out since at least the sixteenth century via ordinary postal mail.

Section 419 of the Nigerian Penal Code prohibits this activity, hence they are known as ‘419’ Frauds.

For example:

  • You’ve won £30,000 cash prize or a lottery jackpot and in order to claim it, send a payment for £10 as a release fee in order for you to receive your prize.
  • An implausible series of events has occurred and your help is required in getting money out of their country, which will normally involve making a series of payments.
  • A clairvoyant, for a small fee, will increase your wealth, happiness, love life, professional or personal success.
  • You’ve got your dream job, and have to make payments for taxes, visas, “anti terrorism certificates” or any reason.

Do not respond to this type of approach - you will be targeted as part of a ‘suckers’ list.

  • Fraudsters will share or sell on your details to other fraudsters.
  • Never send money via money transfer to someone that you have never met.
  • Money Transfer is a favoured method of payment for advance fee fraud - see our page about money transfer.
  • If the promise seems too good to be true, it most probably is.