CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA PRESS STATEMENT ON ADVANCE FEE FRAUD SCAM
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED
1. Since the early 1990s, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has endeavoured to combat the scourge of Advance Fee Fraud/Scam being perpetrated by fraudsters via letters, telefax, telex, etc., both locally and overseas, through publicity campaigns, seminars, press statements, and co-operation with law enforcement agencies. To date, the CBN has placed advisory advertisements in over 80 newspapers and magazines in 12 languages in 36 countries, in its efforts to forewarn all corporations and individuals who are likely to fall prey to the scam and thereby help stamp out the proliferation of Advance Fee Fraud, aka "419". Furthermore, the Bank replies routinely to 811 inquiries relating to scam letters, telefax, etc, to the effect that the "claims" are bogus and fraudulent and that the claimants are being duped. Appropriate Embassies and High, Commissions in Nigeria are also furnished with copies of correspondence emanating from their countries to prevent ruination of their nationals.
2. Unfortunately, the scam has continued unabated, even with increasing sophistication, because of the criminality, avarice and greed of the so-called victims of the scam, who are also villains. The bogus "business" proposals/deals which run into millions of US dollars manifest fraudulent intentions ab initio, which should ordinarily put any responsible and law abiding person on inquiry. However, driven by fraudulent tendency, greed and the urge to make quick and easy money at the expense of Nigeria, many of the so-called victims have continued to ignore the warnings of the Central Bank of Nigeria, to the effect that such transactions are bogus and fraudulent.
3. To recapitulate, an advance fee fraud/scam takes various forms, A typical one starts with a letter or solicitation, followed by telefax or telex messages. The letters often offer to transfer huge amounts of money, usually in US dollars, purported to be part proceeds of certain contracts, to the addressee's bank account, to be shared in some proportion between the Writer and the addressee. A favourable response to the letter is followed by excuses why the funds cannot be remitted readily and subsequently by demands for proportionate share of payment of various "taxes" to facilitate the processing and remittance of the funds. The use of fake Government, Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigeria National Petroleum corporation etc., documents is common practice. The fraudsters usually request that the transaction be done under the cover of confidentiality. Sometimes, the "victims" are invited to Nigeria where they would be given red-carpet reception and attended by the fraudsters posing as Nigeria Government or Central Bank officials. To consummate the "transaction", the 'victims" would be required to pay advance fees for various reasons, e.g. Processing fees, unforeseen taxes, licence fees, registration fees, signing/lawyers fees, National Economic Recovery Fund fees, insurance coverage release fees, VAT, etc. Collection of these advance fees is real objective of the scam. A recent variant of scam, directed primarily at charitable Organisations and religious bodies overseas, involves bogus inheritance, under a will. Again the sole aim is to collect the advance fees described as one form of inheritance tax or other.
4. The Central Bank of Nigeria has taken this initiative of once again warning the business community and individuals because of its concern to maintain the good name of the Bank and its public standing as well as those of its Senior Executives. Often the names of the Bank, members of its top management team, including the Governors (past and present) and the Deputy Governors together with those of highly placed Government officials, have been fraudulently used and abused by the fraudsters with reckless abandon, to lend credibility and respectability to the scam. As on previous occasions, the Central Bank of Nigeria wishes through this medium, to warn all and sundry about the existence and the modus operandi of the international criminal syndicates whose nefarious activities have been a source of embarrassment to the Bank and the Nigerian Government.
5. On numerous occasions, the so-called victims of the "419" scam have brought lawsuits against the Central Bank of Nigeria, all of which the Bank has defended successfully. In a recent landmark judgment on an advance fees scam lawsuit brought by Larry Sorth and Mr. & Mrs. Tei Vs. The Central Bank of Nigeria, et al, the issues if advance fee fraud, the impostors and Clearing House banks were decided on by Hon. Justice Charles A. Sham of the United States of America District Court (Eastern District of Missouri). The case was ruled in favour of the Central Bank of Nigeria. The Judge ruled that the case of the plaintiffs - Messrs. Sorth and Tel -was not sustainable, because they neither engaged in any commercia1 transaction with the defendant, nor had contact with genuine Central Bank of Nigeria officials, nor with any official of the Federal Government of Nigeria. The Judge further noted that documents tendered by the plaintiffs as evidence were forgeries and that they were, from the onset, aware that the transactions were bogus, fraudulent, and too good to be true, We hope that this landmark Court decision among many others decided in favour of the Bank would serve as sufficient warning to all those who do not heed our advisory advertisements and who would subsequently like to seek relief from the courts after falling "victim" to advance fee scam transactions,
6. The Centra1 Bank of Nigeria is once again warning all recipients of such fraudulent letters, that there are no contract payments trapped in the Bank. Also, that all documents, appertaining to these "payments", "claims" or "transfers", purportedly issued by the Bank, its Senior Executives or the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are all forgeries, bogus and fraudulent. These documents do not originate from the Bank or the Government. They are not authentic, YOU ARE THEREFORE, WARNED AND ADVISED, IN YOUR OWN INTEREST, TO IGNORE THE "GET-BICH-QUICK" BUSINESS SOLICITAI'IONS. The Central Bank of Nigeria implores you to assist in the fight against these crimina1 syndicates by reporting any solicitation to your local law enforcement agencies or the local International Police Organisation (INTERPOL).
7. For the avoidance of doubt, it should be restated that the Central Bank of Nigeria will not accept responsibility for any loss sustained by any person or cooperation that fails to heed our warnings.
8. You have been warned several times before! You have been warned again.
CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA
Samuel Ladoke Akintola Way, P.M.B. 0187, Garki, Abuja, NIGERIA