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Commercial Investigators
Lane & Associates

Beware of Advance Fee Fraud 28/10/2008

Have you, your company or charity been approached with an investment or business opportunity in Africa? Or one with an African connotation? If you have, please read the following, and see if you want to continue with your transactions.

We at Lane & Associates have been involved in assisting businesspersons in Africa with doing their transactions, and ensuring their safety. Very few of these transactions have proved to be genuine, most have been scams. We have successfully thwarted Nigerian, South African and Russian Syndicates attempting to defraud our clients.

These syndicates in Africa have proved to be ruthless. Where victims have refused to cooperate with the syndicates' demands, they have been kidnapped and money extorted from business associates, friends and family members. The syndicates have murdered a number of victims.

The incidences of advance fee fraud (also known as.'419' used mainly by Nigerians) has declined significantly. Nevertheless, there are still some people who have continued to fall victim to the solicitations of advance fee fraudsters.

The advance fee fraud is perpetrated by enticing the victim with a bogus 'business' proposal, which promises millions of US dollars as a reward. The scam letter usually promises to transfer huge amounts of money, usually in US dollars, purported to be part proceeds of certain contracts, to the addressee's bank account. This is to be shared in some proportion between the parties. A favourable response to the letter is followed by excuses why the funds cannot be remitted readily and subsequently by demands for proportionate sharing of payments for various 'taxes' and 'fees' supposedly to facilitate the processing and remittance of the alleged funds. The use of 'fake' Government, Bank, Petroleum Company, etc. documents is a common practice.

The fraudsters usually request that the transaction be done under the cover of confidentiality. Sometimes the 'victims' are invited to Africa, usually South Africa, Nigeria, Namibia and Zimbabwe where they are given red-carpet reception and attended to by the fraudsters, posing as Government officials. Quite often the fraudsters invent bogus Government committees purported to have cleared the payments. Also, it is not unusual for them to contrive fake publications in the newspapers evidencing purported approvals to transfer non-existent funds.

To consummate the transaction, the 'victim' would be required to pay 'advance fees' for various purposes: e.g. processing fees, unforeseen taxes, licence fees, registration fees, signing/legal fees, fees for National Economic Recovery Fund, VAT, audit fees, insurance coverage fees, etc. The collection of these 'advance fees' is actually the real objective of the scam!

A recent variant of the scam aimed primarily at charitable organisations and religious bodies overseas involves bogus inheritance under a will. Again the sole aim is to collect the 'advance fees' already described above. A new strategy that has also been used to defraud the 'victims' is an offer to use chemicals to transform ordinary paper into United States dollar bills, which would be subsequently shared by the parties.

You are again warned in your own interest not to become yet another dupe to these fraudulent solicitations or schemes. Genuine and prospective investors in Africa are advised to contact Lane & Associates who can assist in checking the credentials of companies and individuals and all relevant groundwork on your behalf.

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