International Financial Scams
The Bureau of Consular Affairs receives daily calls about international scams involving Internet dating, inheritance, work permits, overpayment, and money-laundering. Many scams are initiated through the Internet; victims range in age from 18 to 81 and come from all socio-economic backgrounds.
While such confidence schemes have long existed, the advent of the Internet has greatly increased their prevalence. Individual U.S. citizens have lost considerable money on these scams, ranging from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
All types of advance-fee scams have one point in common - the targeted person is led to believe that he or she has a chance to attain something of very great personal value (financial reward, a romantic relationship, etc) in return for a small up-front monetary outlay. As a general rule, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If you feel you have been a victim of an Internet scam, please consult the publications below for help and send all reports of Internet fraud directly to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) - a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C). IC3 was established to receive internet related criminal complaints and to research, develop, and refer complaints to federal, state, local, or international law enforcement if appropriate.
If the scam originated through a particular website, also notify the administrators of that website. When it becomes apparent you are the victim of a scam, it is best to end all communications with the scam artist, rather than attempt resolution. It is extremely rare for victims to recover lost money. If you feel threatened in any way, you should report your situation to the local police.
If you are concerned about a U.S. citizen in distress overseas, but you are not sure if it is a legitimate case, call our office of Overseas Citizens Services at 888-407-4747 (from overseas: 202-501-4444). Review our information on Emergency Assistance to Americans Abroad.
Scams evolve constantly, and we cannot include all scam variations here. We do hope, however, that these examples and resources will help alert you to the indicators of some common scams and actions you should take::
- Grandparent Scams
- Internet Dating and Romance Scams
- Advance Fee Scams - Money laundering and Inheritance Scams
- Work Permits
- Lottery Scams
- Real Estate and Overpayment Fraud
- Hacked E-mail Scams
- Resources for Victims of International Financial Scams
- Help for American Victims of Crime Overseas
Learn About Your Destination
Take precautions to avoid being a target of crime: Do not wear conspicuous clothing or jewelry and do not carry excessive amounts of money. Do not leave unattended luggage in public areas or accept packages from strangers.