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.
Lottery fraud is one of many different types of advance-fee fraud, where the perpetrator attempts to persuade a potential victim to pay fees in advance or relatively small sums of money for a service he or she has never asked for.
In the case of a lottery scam, the money has to be paid for the transfer of a huge lottery win. Very often, names of popular companies or organizations are misused to give the lottery a trustworthy impression. Common media are the Internet, mobile devices and cell phones.
We are currently supporting a private sector initiative to raise awareness of the scams and to aid investigations.
If you have received an unexpected letter about a significant lottery win which has to be transferred from a foreign country to your account:
- Do not reply to any of these messages;
- Do not send any money;
- Do not send or hand over identification documents - not even copies;
- Never give details of your bank accounts or payment cards;
- Never open any attachments.
If you are already in contact with these criminals or have already paid advance fees:
- Save all received and sent email and text messages;
- Save all documents of transactions and remittances;
- Never agree to meet the criminals in person in order to receive a prize - you will not receive any money and you may be putting yourself in danger.
- Contact your local police immediately and follow their advice.
Don't forget: you cannot win a prize for a lottery in which you have never participated.
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.