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Advance fee fraud (AFF) means a fraudulent scheme that is used to convince or attempt to convince a person that he has been the recipient of some financial or other gain, which the person will only receive if he pays, in advance, a particular sum of money.
When the victim pays the fee, it will not bring him closer to receiving the gain. In fact, he only risks losing more money as the fraudster will be encouraged to recontact the victim to request the payment of additional fees for the same transaction. The explanations used by the fraudsters for demanding the additional fees are creative but still credible and may include the advance payment of bank fees for money transfers, payment of courier services to send the check, legal fees to have an attorney or notary prepare documents needed for the money transfer, or the advance payment of taxes on the prize.
To make their deception more convincing, the fraudsters are known to create fake courier companies, public notary firms, law firms, and provide them with domain names, phone numbers, email addresses to complete the deception. They will counterfeit trusted brands to convince the victim that the prize is plausible and real.
Enforcement against AFF is complicated by the fact that fraudsters commit their crime across borders and although the aggregated cases add up to very large crimes, the individual cases may not be large enough to meet the threshold for initiating an international investigation and subpoenaing evidence to identify the fraudsters.