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Fraud Alert

West African advanced fee fraud

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West African advance fee fraud

The Metropolitan Police Fraud Squad is issuing warnings, as part of a crime prevention initiative against a type of fraud commonly know as 'West African' or '419' advance fee fraud. This section of the Metropolitan Police website will serve as a resource providing warnings and advice to help potential victims protect themselves as well as publishing important legal information.

What is West African "419" fraud?

Advance fee fraud or '419' fraud (named after the relevant section of the Nigerian Criminal Code) is a popular crime with the West African criminal element. There are a myriad of schemes and scams - mail, faxed and telephone promises designed to facilitate victims parting with money. All involve requests to help move large sums of money with the promise of a substantial share of the cash in return.

The laws from Section 419 and laws in place in other jurisdictions criminalising the offences do not scare away the criminals who profit from these crimes. The stakes and profits are simply too high and many government officials are believed to be involved with the criminal gangs.

Victim's individual monetary losses can range from low thousands into multi-millions. True figures are often impossible to ascertain, because many victims, embarrassed by their naiveté and feeling personally humiliated, do not report the crime to the authorities. Others, having lost so much themselves, become "part of the gang" recruiting more victims from their own country of residence. There are tragic cases of victims being unable to cope with the losses and committing suicide.

Remember: "If it sounds too good to be true, then it is!"

Specialist Crime OCU Fraud Squad
Wellington House, 67-73 Buckingham Gate, London, SW1E 6BE