Nigerian Fraud Letters

So you have received a letter from Nigeria... now what?
The letter looks good, it is an opportunity to make some big bucks for really not doing anything but transferring funds... so why not do it?

The most common forms of these fraudulent business proposals fall into six main categories:

  • Conversion of hard currency
  • Transfer of funds from over invoiced contracts
  • Sale of crude oil at below market prices
  • Disbursement of money from wills
  • Purchase of real estate
  • Contract Fraud (C.O.D. of goods or services)

Perpetrators of Advance Fee Fraud are often very creative and innovative. It is called "4-1-9" fraud after the section of the Nigerian penal code that addresses fraud schemes. Nigerian nationals, purporting to be officials of their government or banking institutions or some other sort of scenario, will fax or mail letters to individuals and businesses in the United States and other countries. Please be aware and understand that with the spread of information technology, fee fraud solicitations can originate from any country in the world and you should always be alert to this advanced fee fraud scam.

Typical advanced fee fraud letters have correspondence that will inform the recipient that a reputable foreign company or individual is needed for the deposit of an overpayment on a procurement contract. The letter will claim that the Nigerian, or other another country, government overpaid anywhere from $10 to $60 million on these contracts. 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.

There is the perception that no one would enter such an obviously suspicious relationship; however, MANY victims have been enticed into believing they can share in such windfall profits and the scam artists are getting more and more creative with their solicitation for assistance letters.

The scam artists compile mailing lists from trade journals, business directories, magazine and newspaper advertisements, and trade shows. The letter is usually addressed to the President or CEO of a company and starts out with a vague or implausible explanation as to how the sender obtained the company's name as a contact. Also please note that the scam artists are keeping up with the times and currently, the majority of these types of correspondences, are being sent through e-mail.

What should you do if you have received a letter or e-mail of the above considerations?

Please mail or fax the communication received and provide the following information:

  • Indicate “Financial Loss-Contact me ASAP” or “No Financial Loss-For Your Database” accordingly for your situation)
  • Include your contact information, including address and telephone number.

MAIL TO: U.S. Secret Service, Financial Crimes Division
1000 Liberty Avenue Rm.1611, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Note: If you mail the letter, please include the original envelope.

FAX TO: 412-281-7914

If you do not get a return call soon enough to satisfy you, please call the local Financial Crimes Division at 412-281-7825.

Please, also be aware that the scam artists are contacting earlier victims of the fraud and are posing as Nigerian Government Officials or others investigating the fraud in an attempt to get the victims’ money back and will request an up front recovery fee for this service. This is also a scam and should not be trusted.

Nigeria does have legitimate, reputable businesses; nonetheless their abundance of advanced fee fraud solicitations has brought them to the forefront. However, it should be noted that fraud letters can and do come from all different parts of the world. To guide you in making sure you do not get taken, the best course of action may be to heed what your Mother told you, "You don't get something for nothing."

Report Fraud to the FBI

If you believe that your company has been a victim of internet credit card fraud you can file a complaint through the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center at tp://    IC3's mission is to serve as a vehicle to receive, develop, and refer criminal complaints regarding the rapidly expanding arena of cyber crime.

If you have additional questions regarding overseas financial fraud, please contact your local U.S. Commercial Service office at: 412-644-2800. You may also obtain further information on this subject at the Secret Service Financial Crimes Division website at: tp://