Types of Advance Fee Scam
An advance fee scam is not limited to one specific action but can come in multiple forms. We share some of the most common advance fee fraud examples that you should be aware of.
Ticket scams are a well-known type of advanced fee scam. The ‘seller’ offers tickets for a concert, gig or festival, which they do not in fact possess. The customer pays for the tickets, which never materialise. As a result, the customer is left without the event tickets at the last moment as they had been expecting the tickets to arrive.
Work from Home or Business Opportunity Scams
Work from home scams and business opportunity scams are further types of advance fee fraud. A leaflet or advert offers money to be made from working at home or setting up an online business. The advert is made to sound attractive, with benefits such as choosing hours of work and flexibility.
This advanced fee scam requires upfront payment, whether that be to register, get instructions or set up a website, for example. If the scheme is to assemble goods, for instance, then the fraudsters will find faults with the work and not pay up. Many of these scams are pyramid selling schemes where the only money to be made is by selling the scheme onto others.
This type of advance fee scam takes place when a company approves a fast loan from an applicant, typically in response to an advert or website, without any checking. A fee will be payable for ‘insurance’, for example, and once that fee is paid by the victim, they never hear from the scammers again.
Lottery Prize Draw Scams
The advanced fee scam victim is contacted by letter or email, which states they have won a large amount of money on the Spanish lottery, for example. The victim is then asked to contact a person at the lottery company. Once they do so, they are told that their winnings cannot be paid unless they provide copies of identification documents and their bank details.
After this information is given, the victim’s identity can be stolen, as can the contents of their bank account. The advance fee fraud scam comes into play when the criminals ask for payment for various fees such as taxes, legal fees, banking fees, etc. Once the money is taken, the victim hears nothing else from the scammers about their ‘winnings’.
Career Opportunity Scams
Career opportunity scams are another type of advance fee scam. Examples include bogus invention companies, publishers and model agencies; all of which promise a glittering launch of a career. Victims attend an initial consultation at the cost of an upfront fee. The dazzling promises are never delivered, and the victim loses out on the ‘deposit’ that they paid to launch their career.
Impersonation of Officials
The advanced fee scam victim is targeted by fraudsters impersonating official government departments. For example, the scammers may impersonate Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise to make demands for VAT or other taxes to be paid.
Online Dating Scams
Online dating scams are one of the most well-known advance fee fraud examples. Victims are targeted via dating agency websites or chat rooms. The scammers take the time to create a false online profile (which often include model pictures) and build up an intimate online relationship with the victim.
Once the scammers have built that relationship and sympathy, they will ask the victim for help with something which requires money. For example, the scammer may ask for money to get their Visa processed in order to visit the victim. Also, if they have got the advance fee scam victim to perform sexual acts on a webcam, they may well begin to blackmail that person to get money out of them.
Prospective tenants, often students, are the target of this type of advanced fee scam. The victim is tricked into paying an upfront fee to rent a property. However, the property does not exist, has been rented out to someone else, or has been rented to various and multiple victims at the same time. The victim loses their ‘deposit’ and has no property to move in to. Students are often targeted, particularly those coming from overseas who have little knowledge of the UK or the potential rental scam.
Fraud Recovery Fraud
Those who have previously been victims of an advance fee scam are targeted by scammers claiming they can recover the money lost. To get money from the victim, they will likely ask for admin or release fees. Also, they will typically provide various reasons for not being able to get the stolen money back, such as they are under the control of a court. Often, they will also attempt to obtain bank details of the advance fee fraud scam victim so that they can clear their bank account.
With inheritance fraud, the victim is contacted and told that a person with their family name has died and left behind a huge sum of money for them. The scammers may well pretend to be a lawyer from overseas, stating the money will go to the government if the victim does not act swiftly. Then, the scammers will ask for money to pay for legal fees, banking fees or admin fees. After the advanced fee scam victim transfers the money, they won’t hear from the scammers again. If bank account details and personal identification have been provided to the scammers, they may be used to perpetrate further frauds upon the victim.
To summarise, anything that is paid for upfront and never materialises due to scammers is an advanced fee scam. There are many more types of advance fee scams, and we have shared just a few common examples to be aware of.