The Netherlands Consulate General in Chicago, United States

Fraud / Scams

The Royal Netherlands Embassy in Washington, D.C., as well as the Netherlands Consulates General in the U.S., receive numerous inquiries from U.S. citizens regarding the legitimacy of certain solicitations they have received via normal mail or via email. The solicitations promise large sums of money in return for the payment of certain advance fees, transaction fees, customs fees, etc.; some solicitations concern foreign lotteries. The solicitations name businesses allegedly registered in the Netherlands, or other European countries, as the source of the monetary or other transaction.

The Embassy would like to inform U.S. citizens that these solicitations are most likely fraudulent and connected to a well-known financial crime, originating in West Africa in the 1980s. These financial crimes have become so widespread that they are known to national and international law enforcement authorities as "Nigerian bank fraud," "Advance Fee Fraud," "Section 4-1-9 Fraud," etc., schemes. Foreign lottery fraud is a distinct type of fraud, but the methods of operations are quite similar.

A few common traits of the "Advance Fee Fraud" solicitation are:

• a sum of money (or product), of either legal or illegal origin, from lotteries, investment schemes, oil, bequest, real estate, business failure, etc., will be made available if the recipient pays certain fees associated with the release of the money (or product), in advance;
• to initiate the transaction, the recipient must contact an official of the alleged business in the Netherlands (or in other European countries)
• contact with the "official" occurs via a cell phone; in the Netherlands, this can be identified by a phone number beginning with (+) 31 6.......
• attempts to verify the business address with online business directories or the local Chamber of Commerce fail.

If you suspect that you have been approached by someone involved in these practices, pay careful attention to the following advise:

• If an offer sounds too good to be true, it isn't true!
• Ignore such letters or emails.
• Never provide personal information such as your name, address or bank account number.
• Never pay in advance!
• Do not accept invitations to travel to another country. Besides suffering financial loss, you may be attacked or kidnapped (with fatal consequences), as can be the case in Nigeria or South Africa; you may also risk arrest for involvement in illegal activities (under article 419 of the Nigerian Criminal Code).
• Be careful with cheques. The risk that cheques offered by Nigerians are fake or falsified is very great.
• Before doing business in West Africa, obtain information from banks, Chambers of Commerce, Dutch embassies, etc.
• Be aware that many false bank or security company websites are used to support fraudulent practices

If you are a U.S. citizen and suspect that you may be a target of one of these schemes, please view the U.S. Secret Service information (search under advance fee fraud) and the U.S. Department of State publication on "Section 4-1-9 Fraud" or "Advance Fee Fraud."

The website of the non-profit 4-1-9 Coalition contains much information to help you better understand the nature and extent of this crime.

Three other good sources of information can be found at Nigerian Scams, Crimes of persuasion as well as at Fraud.org. These references are provided as service only.

If you are a U.S. citizen, the U.S. Secret Service has a division which investigates this type of criminal activity, and we encourage you to contact them directly at U.S. Secret Service

Netherlands authorities are also interested in receiving copies of correspondence (pertaining to a Dutch address or telephonenumber) with these criminals, which can be sent to: KLPD, Financial Crimes Unit, Post Office Box 3016, 2700 KX Zoetermeer, The Netherlands, attention: Project Apollo. The email address is: WACN@klpd.politie.nl

The fraud form, use this form only to report a fraud case, if you have been the victim of these type of fraudulent practices.