This site's response to the enquiry received:
I believe I can supply some assistance. You have received an 'advance fee fraud letter' or '419' scam
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.
DO NOT reply to the e-mail you received, not even to ask them to remove you from their e-mail list; that may only tell the sender that they have a genuine e-mail address - and can lead to further problems. These people are sophisticated.
for further information about '419', you can try http://nigeria419scam.xoasis.com/ though some good info is held at http://home.rica.net/alphae/419coal/. An extract from the NCIS web site content is detailed below.
It is unlikely you are the only e-mail in Bermuda to receive such a letter. Bermuda is of a size that it should be relatively easy to alert everyone to the problem. I have not seen the problem associated with Bermuda and therefore suspect it may not be well known. Plenty are duped - let's try to ensure Bermudians are not among them
I hope this is of some help.
10 July 2001
£150 million annual loss across Britain feared as NCIS warns of surge in advanced fee fraud letters
The National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) today warned British businesses and individuals to be on their guard against a surge in fraudulent letters and emails promising large cash payouts in exchange for a small upfront investment, commonly known as '419' Advanced Fee fraud. Churches and charities have also been targeted.
Recent successes in combating the fraud have forced a change of tactics by the organised criminals behind it, mostly operating from West Africa and NCIS is today seeking the public's help in fighting one of the most profitable areas of organised crime.
419 fraud follows a recognisable pattern. A business or individual receives a letter, fax or email from an 'official' allegedly in a foreign government or agency. An offer is made to transfer millions of pounds - for reasons including paper currency conversion, real estate ventures, business investment, a legacy or simple fraud - into your personal bank account. You are encouraged to travel overseas to complete the transaction and sent documents with official-looking seals and logos testifying to the proposal's authenticity. Throughout the fraud, you are asked to provide advance fees for taxes, legal fees, transaction fees or bribes.
In the last three years, NCIS's West African Organised Crime Section, working closely with the Post Office and the police, has legally withdrawn 78,000 letters in London alone. On the basis of these letters, NCIS estimates the potential loss to the UK economy from 419 crime due to the change in tactics to be as high as ?150 million in the coming year. A considerable proportion of this money will feed into drugs trafficking and other organised crime.
Tactical changes by the criminals include:
different source countries, including Gabon, South Africa and Botswana, being used
some letters being mailed in bulk in large parcels, then put in the post from within the UK
the number of 419 emails reported has significantly increased, and NCIS anticipates these developing into the major source of 419 fraud
Duncan McKelvie, from NCIS's West African Organised Crime Section, said:
"This change of tactics in 419 fraud poses a serious threat. Many people will be seeing these letters and emails for the first time, and some will be taken in, despite previous warnings. We urge them to be on their guard.
"You would think that no-one would fall for such an obvious scam, but this sort of sting is a definite threat to both company viability and individual security. We reckon at least one per cent of people follow up the initial letter and lose money as a result. Victims are often too ashamed to come forward. Some are known to have been suicidal when they realise they have been duped into parting with thousands of pounds.
"The number of letters seized represent just the tip of the iceberg. There is simply no way of knowing how many letters are getting through, and how many people's lives are being ruined. That is why NCIS is working very hard on it with UK law enforcement, especially the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police, and the Nigerian Government."
Common tricks are to notify businesses that an overseas investor is interested in investing in their company, or to promise a legacy to a charity or church, or to tell individuals that their help is needed to move large sums of money.
After the first expression of interest, the victim is told that 'administrative' charges or 'taxes' have to be paid before the transfer of funds can be made, and soon the fraud victim finds himself thousands of pounds in debt - the average loss is ?31,000.
Duncan McKelvie offers the following advice:
"If you receive one of these letters or emails, do not reply, as the criminals may use your letterhead for other frauds. Instead, forward them to NCIS, PO Box 8000, London SE11 5EN or forward them to email: email@example.com ."
419 letters and emails
Potential total loss from all areas is estimated by NCIS at ?150 million per annum over the last three years. This figure is based on analysis by NCIS in early 2001. NCIS analysed 1,177 letters - two months' worth of the 1,435,000 419 letters removed over three years. Using a dip sampling technique, these were analysed by police force area across the UK. The Metropolitan and City of London areas received 5.4 per cent of the letters - 78,029 over three years. On an estimated one per cent take up, at the average loss of ?31,000, the London area would stand to lose ?24 million from these letters alone over three years.
Potential regional losses prevented by NCIS and its partners in the last three years include:
Scotland £63 million
Northumbria £6.8 million
West Midlands £27.2 million
South Yorkshire £15.5 million
Greater Manchester £1.5 million
The support and full co-operation of the Nigerian authorities and their High Commission in London is essential for the work of West African Organised Crime Section (WAOCS). The Head of the Section liaises closely with the High Commission and regularly visits Lagos to meet the local major law enforcement agencies. On a recent visit, they served six warrants and arrested a number of known fraudsters.
There is an increasing trend for advanced fee fraud correspondence to be received via email. This makes discovery more difficult and may well lead to an increase in the number of people being defrauded. Unsolicited messages from overseas with a web-based email address such as Hotmail, Yahoo! or Mail.com should be treated with suspicion, particularly if they offer the recipient a financial proposal. They should be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recently, UK businesses, including solicitors, have been targeted by e-mail with offers to represent West Africans who wish to invest in this country. Churches and charities have also been targeted and informed they have been left a considerable amount of money in the will of a recently deceased person.
National Criminal Intelligence Service
The National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) was set up in 1992 and is dedicated to providing leadership and excellence in criminal intelligence to combat serious and organised crime. The service deals with a wide range of high quality intelligence on matters as diverse as money laundering, organised crime, drugs, paedophiles, counterfeit currency and hooligans. It is the UK office for Interpol and Europol.
The Police Act 1997 provides the legislative framework for NCIS, maintained by a service authority, which came into being on 1 April 1998.
The West African Organised Crime Section (WAOCS) was established within the Strategic and Specialist Intelligence Branch of NCIS in October 1997 with the objective of reducing the effects of crime originating from West Africa. It is a small multi-agency unit, with representatives from the police, HM Customs and Excise, the Benefits Agency, and the Post Office.
For further information on the National Criminal Intelligence Service, please contact:
Mark Steels, Head of Corporate Communications, or
Fleur Strong, Public Relations Officer or
Edward Venning Public Relations Officer.
Telephone: 020-7238 8431, Fax: 020-7238 2445, out-of-office hours: 07699 786600
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