Alert 2007-12| March 2, 2007
Fraudulent Emails Associated with a "419" Scam: Fraudulent Correspondence Claiming a Connection to the Committee on Financial Services, Washington, DC
Chief Executive Officers of All National Banks; All State Banking Authorities; Chairman, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; Chairman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; Conference of State Bank Supervisors; Deputy Comptrollers (districts); Assistant Deputy Comptrollers; District Counsel and Examining Personnel
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has been informed by the Committee on Financial Services of the U.S. House of Representatives that fraudulent correspondence, including emails, referring to the Committee and making use of the Committee's letterhead is in circulation. The communications inform potential victims that they are due to receive large sums of money from an inheritance, but that they must first pay a large fee through lawyers to the Financial Services Committee in order to verify that the funds are not tied to terrorist financing. The Financial Services Committee does not require any person to obtain what the con-artists are calling a "Clean Bill of Record" for receiving inheritance money.
A "419" scam is named after Section 419 of the Nigerian Penal Code. This is one of the classic con artist schemes originating out of Nigeria and other countries via letter, fax or email. The originator of the document will offer to transfer a large sum of money into your personal bank account for various reasons (sale of goods, estate monies, found monies, contest/lottery winnings). They may request personal information about you such as your address, telephone number, bank account number, copies of your passport, and driver's license. While the scams vary, they all work under the same premise to scam consumers out of their money. Many of these scams involve counterfeit official instruments such as cashier's checks, official checks, or money orders.
The following steps should be taken if you have received a solicitation but have NOT lost funds:
- Do NOT respond to the message! According to the United States Secret Service (USSS), those who respond in any manner to these messages will continue to be harassed for months.
- Forward the correspondence to the USSS at email@example.com or via fax at (202) 406-5031. The Secret Service retains these messages for future investigations. Make sure that you include the scammer's message with its headers.
- Forward the correspondence to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure that you include the scammer's message with its headers.
- Forward the scam email to the email abuse center of the to the email provider used by the 419 scammer. Make sure that you include the scammer's message with its headers. Alert the provider that the email address is being used to solicit illegal activities and that it should be shut down. Most providers have specific abuse mailboxes set up to handle such problems. Some examples include: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; etc.
If you have already lost funds in pursuit of the above-described scheme, please follow these steps:
STOP corresponding with the scammers immediately!
United States citizens and residents should contact the nearest USSS Field Office http://www.secretservice.gov/field_offices.shtml or by telephone to report their loss.
- File a Financial Loss complaint form online with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, which is a partnership between the National White Collar Crime Center and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, at http://www.ic3.gov.
Additional information concerning this matter that you believe should be brought to the attention of the OCC may be forwarded to:
Mail: Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
Special Supervision Division, MS 6-4
250 E Street, SW, Washington, DC 20219
Fax: (202) 874-5214
For additional information regarding other types of financial fraud, please visit the OCC's anti-fraud resources page.
Richard C. Stearns
Director for Enforcement & Compliance