The Consular Affairs Bureau 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 Americans 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. If the scam originated through a particular website, notify also 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 an American 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 brochures will help alert you to the indicators of some common scams and actions you should take: