Advanced Fee Fraud

Advanced fee fraud is a method used by scammers to target victims by asking them to send upfront or advance fees and payments for services or items which are then never provided. This could be for a loan, to secure a rental property or even for employment purposes. 

With the cost of living increasing, scammers are using advanced fee fraud in more cases as a way of targeting vulnerable individuals who may be less financially secure. In the past year, cases of advanced fee fraud have increased by 105%, with the average amount lost by victims sitting at around £711, however, this amount can vary massively. 

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How Does Advanced Fee Fraud Work?

With advanced fee fraud, scam victims will typically reply to advertisements for jobs, loans, competitions or private rental opportunities. These will likely be companies that have never been heard of, or will try to impersonate legitimate businesses. Regardless of their credit history, victims will be approved for what it is they are applying for, which is why individuals with a poor credit history or who are less financially secure are regularly targeted for advanced fee fraud. 

Before victims receive the loan, product or service which they have enquired about, the scammers will ask for an upfront fee to be paid by bank transfer. This can usually be worded as:

  • Payment release fee
  • Insurance fee
  • Verification fee 
  • Loan company fee 
  • Processing fee 
  • Guarantor fee 
  • Tax payment 

Once the fee has been paid, the scammer may even continue to ask for further payments, however, communication between the scammer and victim will eventually cease. Scammers conducting advanced fee fraud will adapt to changes in the victim’s behaviour, with their tactics typically becoming more pressured and highly intense.  

Examples of Advanced Fee Fraud

There are many different tactics that advanced fee fraudsters use to convince their victims that the scam is legitimate. Although there are numerous different types, there are more common strategies used by scammers. Examples of advanced fee fraud can include:

  • After a job interview, you could soon be offered the job but are told that you need to pay a fee for background checks or for training courses. Once this has been paid, it’ll soon become clear that the job doesn’t really exist. 
  • If you’re looking for a rented property, find a great deal then register interest, scammers will tell you that you can’t look around and will request a deposit in order to secure the property. Once this has been sent over, usually with the scammer using intimidating tactics, the victim will find out that the property was never actually up for lease. 
  • You pay an amount to enter a competition on social media, which turns out never to be real, with no prizes ever given. You may also be contacted to say you’ve won a competition that you’ve entered, or you might not be aware of, but then they’ll ask you to pay a fee as a way of securing your prize. 
  • When looking for a loan, you could find one that meets all your requirements and needs but are asked to pay an admin fee in order to secure it at the current rate.

Protecting Yourself Against Advanced Fee Fraud

With advanced fee fraud, there are some ways in which you can protect yourself from losing money. If you have been asked to pay money upfront for goods or services, then you should always question this. If you feel pressured to pay the fee, or some things just don’t quite add up, then you shouldn’t part with any money until you can be absolutely sure that they are who they say they are. 

It’s highly unlikely that you will win a competition or lottery prize if you haven’t entered one. It is also unlikely that you will need to pay an upfront fee in order to claim your prize. If you are asked to do this, then this is likely an example of advanced fee fraud. 

If you believe that you have fallen for an advance fee fraud scheme, then you should contact your bank immediately. 

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    Advanced fee fraud is a scam which is carried out via an exchange and, much like other types of fraud, can feel very personal and targeted. No matter what the scammers call these fees, whether it be membership fees, participation fees, taxes or handling fees, they all have the same thing in common which is that victims will never see their money again. Advanced fee fraud can come in many forms, but if you are ever asked to send money in exchange or upfront for a product or service, then be wary that this could be an advanced fee fraud scheme.

    Just like other scams, there are some warning signs when it comes to advanced fee fraud schemes. If the offer seems too good to be true, you’re being pressured into making a quick decision, you’re being asked to pay via cryptocurrency or request a lot of personal information about you, then these are all signs of advanced fee fraud, if not other types of scams too.

    In order to protect yourself against advanced fee fraud, you should avoid sending money via a direct bank transfer to someone that you have never met, or whom you can’t be sure is legitimate. Sending any money to a third party that you don’t know is not recommended and is one of the most common ways people lose money to scams, such as advanced fee fraud. If the person you are sending money to is located in a different country from yourself, or doesn’t match the location of their business, then you should not send money to them as this could also be a sign that this transaction is a scam.