What is Advance Fee Fraud?
Advance Fee Fraud occurs when a business or individual convince their victim to pay a fee upfront, for goods and services that do not exist. There are many different types of Advance Fee Fraud, including, but not limited to:
419 fraud, also known as West African Letter Fraud, occurs when the victim is approached by a fraudster who says they are in a position of authority. The fraudster asks the victim to give them a ‘transaction fee’ or ‘legal fee’, so they can transfer a large amount of money to them, to get it out of another country such as Nigeria, lying in western Africa.
The fraudster will often explain why the victim has been chosen to take part in this money transfer, and will usually make the victim swear to secrecy.
However, there is no money to transfer, and the victim loses out on the down payment they have made.
Clairvoyant / Psychic Scams
This type of fraud usually occurs after the victim has suffered a loss of someone close to them, but has been known to happen to people from a wide range of circumstances. The fraudster will approach the victim via email, telephone call, post or even face-to-face, and tells them that they have had a message from the recently deceased, have seen something dreadful or wonderful in the victim’s future, or have sensed that the victim has been cursed.
The fraudster will then ask for a down payment to help lift the curse, see the future or contact the deceased. It’s common for the victim to then never hears from the fraudster again, being scammed out of a sum of money in the process.
Dating scams occur when a person joins an online dating site and is contacted by a fraudster who pretends to be interested in them romantically. The pair exchange messages and the fraudster eventually gain the victim’s trust, before telling them they are in trouble financially and need them to send money.
It’s not uncommon for these fraudsters to ask their ‘romantic interest’ to send them intimate photographs of themselves, or perform sexual acts in front of a webcam. This is more common if the victim is female.
This type of fraud usually occurs among people with bad credit scores. The victim will apply for a fast loan and will be automatically approved, regardless of their poor credit history. The loan company will then contact the victim, saying that before the money can be released, they will need to pay an upfront fee to insure the loan.
Once the upfront fee has been paid, the victim will not hear from the loan company again, and no loan will be received.
Rental Fraud occurs when potential tenants are asked to pay an upfront fee to secure a rental property when, in fact, the property does not exist or is already being rented out to someone else. The victim then loses the money they have paid.
Fraudsters often target students looking for student accommodation, as they are usually less experienced when it comes to renting.
Work From Home Scams
Also called ‘business opportunity scams’, work from home scams usually consist of a fraudster contacting a victim and asking them if they are interesting in making easy money from working from home. This is often through the victim setting up their own ‘online business’.
Once the victim has shown interest, they will be asked to pay an upfront payment to cover the cost of setting up the website and the products they will be selling on. However, the products they receive will be almost worthless, and the victim will struggle to make any money from their ‘business’.
It’s not uncommon for these scams to actually be pyramid schemes.
What should I do if I’ve been accused of advanced fee fraud?
If you’ve been accused of advance fee fraud, it’s important that you seek legal advice right away. Our expert team of Business & Tax Solicitors have been handling cases like yours for years, and we’d be delighted to help you. Contact us today for a chat about your next steps.
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