Fraud Alert - 419 Fraud
419 Fraud / Advance fee fraud
SCD6 Economic and Specialist Crime OCU 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.
money - wish, wash
This is another favourite of the West African fraudster and is
often used as a continuance of, or in conjunction with advance
fee fraud. The victim will be shown a suitcase/trunk allegedly
full of genuine money (normally US$100 bills). However, the notes
are all black and the victim is told that they have been coated
with a special substance in order to smuggle them out of Nigeria.
The victim is invited to purchase 'a very special cleaning solution'
at a cost between US$20,000 and US$500,000, to return the notes
to their original status. As the case(s) will contain various
amounts from US$20 million to US$60 million, this seems like a
'magical deal', which leads us nicely into magical tricks.
In front of the victim the criminal will select randomly between
two and four notes from the case. He will then wash them in a
tiny portion of the solution, which he has with him, returning
them to their original form as real bank notes. They are given
to the victim who is invited to spend them or get them checked
at the bank to confirm that they are genuine.
In reality of course the criminal knows perfectly well which
notes he is selecting and takes the only ones that are there,
the remainder being cut to size paper. A really dexterous criminal
will invite the victim to choose notes to clean and use a well
practiced sleight of hand to trick the victim into selecting the
The blackening of the notes is usually caused by a Vaseline/iodine
solution and the very expensive special cleaning solution is a
mixture of washing up liquid and any other liquid with an unusual
odour and colour which the victim will not be able to easily detect.
On some occasions, as a sign of good faith, the victim will be
able to keep the suitcase for a short time, until the victim obtains
the money to buy the solution. To prevent the victim from opening
the suitcase the victim is told that exposure to air will cause
the black substance to ruin the money. Ammonia may be placed inside
in the event that the victim opens the case giving the impression
that the money is disintegrating.
The 'black money' may be the payment to the victim following
the advance fee payments or it may be that they have been given
he story that the money was smuggled out of Nigeria and that the
criminals do not have the funds to convert it. If the victim pays
them the money for the cleaning fluid then they will get 40% of
so of the case content as their commission.
Of course the criminals walk away with plenty of the victim's
money and the victim gets cases and trunks full of paper.
Losses of US$4million to US$5 million have been recorded.
As we have stated before, victims are targeted world wide with
tens of thousands of letters and e-mails being sent out daily.
Most people show good sense and throw them away, but if 1% show
interest and 1% of that 1% get hooked then there are still big
profits for the fraudsters.
If you believe you might be being set up as a target for fraud
or if you are an investigator and you think you might be dealing
with this type of activity then please contact the SCD6 Economic
and Specialist Crime OCU at the address
or by e-mail.