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Common online fraud

It can be expensive to be unaware of internet fraud activities. Find out more about some of the most common.

Advance Fee or ‘419 Fraud’

This involves unsolicited letters and email messages offering the recipient a generous reward for helping to move a staggeringly large balance of funds, usually in US dollars. These funds are said to be anything from corporate profits/accumulated bribes/unspent government funds to unclaimed funds belonging to a deceased person.

The fraudsters are after banking details. The transactions typically require the recipient of the letter or email to pay something like a fee/tax/bribe to complete the deal – this is the Advance Fee. Such fees will be lost.

A recent development is to convince the recipient that the funds are ready to be moved by getting them to log on to a fake bank website and look at a specific account which shows a credit balance of tens of millions of dollars. These funds do not exist.

It is also common for recipients' details to be used to perpetrate other types of fraud.

Lottery Fraud

This involves letters or emails which advise that the recipient has won a prize in a lottery. To obtain the funds the recipient has to respond to the letter or email message. A request will then be made for the recipient to provide his/her bank account details to allow for funds to be transferred. The recipient may also be asked to pay a handling/processing fee. This fee, if paid, will be lost. Also any details given will probably be used to perpetrate other fraud.

Virus hoax email

It is a sad fact of life that there are those who enjoy exploiting the concerns of others. Many emailed warnings about viruses are hoaxes, designed purely to cause concern and disrupt businesses.

Such warnings may be genuine, so don't take them lightly. Always check the story out by visiting an anti-virus site such as McAfee, Sophos or Symantec before taking any action, including forwarding the emails to friends and colleagues.

Frequently asked questions