Oregon Department of Justice

Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum

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Attorney General Hardy Myers announced how to respond to Nigerian advance fee scheme

August 8, 2002

Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced how best to respond to increasing occurrences of "advance fee fraud." The most common of these schemes is the "Nigerian advance fee fraud" which is circulated through electronic mail, ground mail and facsimile. There is, however, a wide range of similar scams that have victimized Oregonians.

These schemes, which are also known as 4-1-9 frauds (based on the section of the Nigerian penal code that addresses fraudulent activity), can be identified from the following tactics:

  • An individual or company receives an e-mail, letter or fax from an alleged "official" representing a foreign government or agency;
  • An offer is made to transfer millions of dollars in "over invoiced contract" funds into your personal bank account;
  • You are encouraged to travel overseas to complete the transaction;
  • You are requested to provide blank company letterhead forms, banking account information, telephone/fax numbers;
  • You receive numerous documents with official looking stamps, seals and logo testifying to the authenticity of the proposal;
  • Eventually you must provide up-front or advance fees for various taxes, attorney fees, transaction fees or bribes;
  • Other forms of advance fee schemes include: c.o.d. of goods or services, real estate ventures, purchases of crude oil at reduced prices, beneficiary of a will, recipient of an award and paper currency conversion.

Profits for Nigerian swindlers have increased over the past several years, despite significant efforts by federal, state and local authorities to alert citizens to the fraudulent activities. The U.S. Secret Service indicates that the scam is targeted towards middle and upper income individuals, and those with access to business or work-related bank accounts. In the past three years, U.S. citizens have been victimized for over $100 million.

Victims who have LOST MONEY to one of these schemes should contact the United States Secret Service, Financial Crimes Division at (202) 406-5850; and the Oregon Department of Justice, Financial Fraud/Consumer Protection Section at 877-877-9392.

If you have been the recipient of a solicitation but have NOT lost money, you may fax a copy to the U.S. Secret Service marked "No financial loss - For your database" to (202) 406-5031 or e-mail it to 419.fcd@usss.treas.gov. You may then erase or dispose of the notice.

For more complete information regarding the Nigerian Advance Fee scam and other such schemes, please check the Secret Service website at www.secretservice.gov/alert419.shtml.

Contact:

Kevin Neely, Justice, (503) 378-6002
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