Advance Fee Fraud
Advance fee fraud, also called upfront fee fraud, is any scam that, in exchange for a fee,
- Promises to send you money, products, or services;
- Offers you the opportunity to participate in a special deal;
- Asks for your assistance in removing funds from a country in political turmoil; or
- Asks for your assistance to help law enforcement catch thieves.
Whatever the scammers call the upfront fees (membership fee, participation fee, administrative or handling fee, taxes) all have one thing in common: the victims never see their money, or the scammers, again. Advance fee schemes come in many forms. We have provided some examples here. For more information, you can also visit the Federal Trade Commission Web site and perform a key word search.
Debt Elimination Fraud
Unlike legitimate companies who work with debtors to help them responsibly repay their debts, debt elimination scammers promise to make you debt free in exchange for a modest upfront or membership fee that they simply pocket. Victims pulled in by these schemes will certainly lose that fee, but they may also lose property, incur additional debt, damage their credit rating, risk identity theft, or face legal action. To learn more, read Answers about Debt Elimination and Fraudulent Schemes or visit the Bureau of Consumer Protection on the Federal Trade Commission Web site.
This fraud combines identify theft and advance fee fraud. Scammers posing as government officials contact victims asking for help in transferring millions of dollars out of Nigeria in exchange for a percentage of the funds. They convince victims to provide their bank name and account numbers and other identifying information and to send checks to pay for bribes or legal fees. Perpetrators may also use the personal information received to drain victims' accounts and credit cards. The Nigerian government is not sympathetic to victims who, by participating in this scheme, violate both Nigerian and U.S. law. Read more about this and other common fraud schemes on the Federal Bureau of Investigation Web site.