Advanced fee frauds involve an unsolicited invitation to take up an offer. The benefit on offer is always fictitious, though this may not be apparent to victims in the first instance. Victims are advised that they must make a payment in advance of receiving the benefit of the offer. The request for payment in advance will usually be made after a victim has responded to the initial invitation. Once a payment has been made by a victim, perpetrators will often seek to prolong the fraud by maintaining contact with their victim, claiming further payments are required for a variety of reasons before the benefit can be delivered.
AUSTRAC is aware of instances where operators of advance fee frauds have forwarded emails or documents to Australian residents purporting to be from an Australian government agency. This correspondence has directed the recipient's attention to what are alleged to be large fund transfers that have allegedly been 'frozen' or 'seized' either by AUSTRAC or a foreign-based government agency.
The fraudulent correspondence also requests a fee, or series of fees, from the recipient for the release of the frozen/seized funds.
AUSTRAC will never act in the manner described in this fraudulent correspondence. AUSTRAC does not have the power to freeze accounts or transactions nor does AUSTRAC charge fees to members of the Australian public.
Any person who believes they may have received such correspondence is advised to report the matter to the local Police. Under no circumstances should they respond to or engage in further communication with the authors of the correspondence.
Further information and advice regarding advance fee frauds and related scams can be obtained from the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission's 'SCAMwatch' website and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission's 'MoneySmart' website.