Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

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Nigerian Advance Fee Fraud "OPERATION 4-1-9"

Is your email inbox filling up with offers to make you rich? One particular scam you should be aware of is the Nigerian Advance Fee Fraud. This fraud is called "4-1-9" fraud after the section of the Nigerian penal code that addresses fraud schemes.

Emails, letters and faxes are being sent throughout the United States and other countries by individuals purporting to be officials of the Nigerian government or banking institutions. The correspondence requests assistance with the transfer of money ranging anywhere from $10 to $60 million. In exchange for assisting in the transfer, individuals are promised a large percentage of the funds. Although there are many varying forms, the letters frequently claim that a reputable foreign company or individual is needed for the deposit of an overpayment on a procurement contract or to transfer money received as part of an inheritance.

Individuals are asked to provide funds to cover various fees and for personal identifiers such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, and other similar data. Once this information is received, the victims find that they have lost large sums of money.

In response to this growing epidemic, the Secret Service established "Operation 4-1-9" to target Nigerian Advance Fee Fraud on an international basis. Indications are that losses attributed to Advance Fee Fraud are in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

If you have been victimized by one of these schemes, please forward appropriate written documentation to:

United States Secret Service
Financial Crimes Division
950 H Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20223

or telephone (202) 406-5850

For additional information online, go to http://www.secretservice.gov/financial_crimes.shtml.

For more information or to file a consumer complaint, contact the Attorney General?s Bureau of Consumer Protection at 1-800-441-2555, or log on to our website at www.attorneygeneral.gov.