Advance fee fraud

Advance fee fraud scams ask you to send money or personal financial details up-front before you can receive some reward.

Adavance fee fraud scams are very common. Scammers may contact you using phone, email or messaging.

If you're not sure, talk through the suspicious message with a friend, family member or colleague.

Talking through your concerns out loud with someone else can reassure you and help to identify messages that may be fake before you click a malicious link or give away any personal information.

Get help

If you think you’ve been scammed, don’t feel embarrassed or helpless – there are steps you can take to limit the damage and protect yourself from further harm.

  • Contact your bank or financial institution. If you’ve sent money or your personal banking details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately. They may be able to help by stopping a money transfer or cheque, investigating a fraudulent credit card transaction, or closing your account if the scammer has your details.
  • Recover your identity. If you think you have been the victim of identity theft, act quickly to avoid further damage. Contact IDCare, a free government-funded service who can help. 
  • Report the scam to the authorities. If you have been a victim of a crime (such as fraud) report it to your local police. We also encourage you to report the scam to the ACCC’s Scamwatch and ACSC's ReportCyber.

For additional information on the different kinds of help available, visit Scamwatch.

How these scams work

There are many types of advance fee fraud scams, but they all ask you to send money or personal financial details up-front before you can receive some greater reward – which could be an unexpected lottery win, an inheritance or a share in profits from a business investment, etc. 

What to look out for

  • You receive an unsolicited message via email or other medium that promises an extraordinary reward or opportunity (for example, you’ve won a lottery that you don’t remember entering or you are offered an unbelievably good business opportunity).
  • You are told that you need to pay an up-front fee and/or provide personal details in order to receive a much greater reward.

For more information of different types of scams, visit Scamwatch.

Protect yourself from advance fee fraud

There are a number of different precautions you can take to protect yourself from fraud.

  • Understand that scams exist and use caution online. Be particularly wary of any uninvited contact – whether it’s via email, social media or other means.
  • Use strong passwords, take steps to protect your computer and use safe behaviour when using the web.
  • Avoid malicious messages – don’t share your email address online unless you need to, use a spam filter to catch bogus messages before they get to your inbox and delete spam that does get through without opening it.
  • Don’t open messages or click on links if you don’t know the sender or if you’re not expecting them. Be especially suspicious of messages that:
    • are not addressed to you directly or misspell your name
    • ask you to provide your banking details or other personal information
    • promise you money
    • present hard luck or exotic stories telling you that you can share in hidden millions of dollars.
  • Don’t accept friend or contact requests on social media from people you don’t know. Criminals may use information they gather about you from social media in order to make their messages more appealing or appear more authentic.

Learn more

Use the following resources to learn more about scams and how to protect yourself: