Nigerian Letter Scam


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'Advance Fee' or '419' Fraud

Watch out for letters, emails or fax messages asking for your help to transfer a substantial amount of money, usually many millions of pounds, out of the sender’s country.

The bulk of these mailings are from Nigeria but an increasing number are now coming from South Africa and other parts of the world. What they have in common is that the fraudsters require you to send money (an ‘advance fee’) to ‘finance the transfer’.

It is sometimes known as the ‘419’ fraud as this refers to the Nigerian Government department tasked with tackling the problem.

Typically the letters are headed "urgent business proposal” and  "in strictest confidence" and suggest that if you allow the sender to use your bank account to transfer money into, then you will receive a percentage.

However, if you do respond, you will simply be asked for money to ‘help the transfer along’, and, if you then send money, you will be asked for more and more money until you finally realise that this is a scam, and the ‘millions of pounds’ do not exist.


Our advice:

If you have received an unsolicited letter or e-mail containing any of these characteristics, do not respond.

Always be wary of letters where "urgency and secrecy" are key elements.

Remember also, revealing any personal details may lead to identity theft.

You can send emails to the internet service provider from where the scam email originated. These mails should be addressed in the following way (depending on the ISP): abuse@the ISP name, for example - The ISPs can then close any accounts that abuse their systems.

The National Criminal Intelligence Service would also like to hear from any victims of such fraud and can be contacted at or telephone 0207 2388012.