The Basics of Advance Fee Scams
Advance fee scams are a type of fraud in which the scammer offers goods, services or funds in exchange for an upfront payment. The payment is typically made using gift cards, wire transfer, pre-loaded debit cards or cryptocurrency, and you are usually promised a much larger sum of money in return. However, once the initial payment is made, the scammer disappears and you are left with nothing. These scams can be very difficult to spot, as they often involve seemingly legitimate businesses or individuals.
Common Tactics Used By Advance Fee Scammers
There are several common tactics that advance fee scammers use to trick people into giving them money or personal information, such as:
- Offering a free or low-cost trial period for a service, only to require an upfront payment before the trial begins.
- Guaranteeing a large return on investment, but only if an upfront payment is made.
- Asking for personal or financial information, such as your Social Security number or bank account number, in order to “qualify” you for the offer.
- Requesting that you wire money to them, load funds onto a prepaid debit card or pay with gift cards in order to receive the promised goods or services.
- Threatening legal action if you do not make the payment.
- Creating fake websites or email addresses that appear to be legitimate.
Common Types of Advance Fee Scams
- “Nigerian Prince” Scam: You receive an email from someone claiming to be a Nigerian prince or other official who needs help moving large sums of money out of the country. You are promised a percentage of the money if you help, but first you must pay various fees and expenses.
- “Lottery” or “Prize” Scam: You are contacted and told that you have won a large sum of money in a lottery or contest. However, to collect your prize, you must first pay various fees and taxes.
- Inheritance Scams: You are told that you are the beneficiary of an inheritance, but you must pay a fee in order to receive the money.
- Job Offer Scams: You are promised a high-paying job, but you must pay a fee in order to secure the position.
- Cryptocurrency Scams: You are asked to pay fees, using cryptocurrency, in exchange for a larger sum of cryptocurrency. Once the scammer receives your payment, they disappear.