Different types of fraud include confidence tricks, lottery fraud and advance-fee fraud (including so-called Nigerian Letters or 419 Fraud), as well as insurance fraud, tax avoidance, offshore investment scams, marriage fraud, pyramid schemes and payment card fraud.
These crimes often have an international dimension and are committed through a variety of media, for instance by the Internet, telephone, fax and post.
Sophisticated social engineering techniques are carried out on the Internet to trick people into revealing personal data, banking details and passwords. One of these techniques is “phishing”, in which fraudsters create fake communications – such as emails, instant messages and pop up windows – that may appear to come from a legitimate source.
At INTERPOL, we are fighting fraud through several projects which aim to gather information, build up networks between law enforcement bodies and seek possible cooperation with the commercial sector, such as in a current private sector initiative against lottery scams.
Working with the private sector
Lottery fraud is profitable for criminals with its low costs and low risk element. It is often carried out by multiple fraudsters, with people in different countries handling the different stages of the crime. Given the difference in legislation between nations, this is a complicated type of international crime to investigate.
It is difficult to estimate the loss to individuals and companies as victims are often reluctant to report the crime, but total global losses are estimated to run to billions of dollars or euros per year.
The names of trusted brands are often misused by fraudsters in an attempt to give credibility to this type of scam and to gain the victim's confidence.
What the industry is doing
INTERPOL is supporting a campaign started by a group of affected companies against the misuse of their company names for lottery scams. The Advance Fee Fraud Coalition includes the African Development Bank, Microsoft Corporation, the Western Union Company, and Yahoo!.
The Coalition has two main aims:
- To raise public awareness and so prevent people falling victim to this type of scam;
- To encourage victims to report their cases both to police in their home country and to the company in question. The data will then be passed on to INTERPOL, in order for the Organization to initiate and support international investigations.
The importance of collecting data
Scams are often carried out by Internet, mobile device or cell phone, and it is essential to gather as much related data as possible. For example:
- Complete communication records (individual message content could lead directly to the perpetrators);
- All e-mail addresses involved;
- All telephone numbers involved;
- Postal addresses;
- Personal data of the scammers.
We strongly encourage the public, private sector and police agencies – especially High-Tech Crime units – to share as much information as possible, in order to curb this fast-growing type of crime.
For more information about the Advance Fee Fraud Coalition, visit www.affcoalition.org.
If you receive an email from someone claiming to represent INTERPOL, requesting personal information or bank account information, you should ignore it and treat it as spam.