Investing in Switzerland

Information on Internet Fraud for prospective Swiss Investors

Advance Fee Fraud (AFF), also known as "4-1-9" (four-one-nine) fraud is derived from a sub section of the Nigerian penal code which addresses fraud schemes. Perpetrators use very creative and innovative schemes on their victims to entice them into believing that they have been singled out to share in a multi-million dollar windfall profit. Please note there are many variations of 419 scams and the following should not be taken as exhaustive. The most common forms of these fraudulent business proposals fall into seven main categories:

  • Disbursement of money from wills
  • Cash on Delivery for goods and services
  • Purchase of real estate
  • Conversion of hard currency
  • Transfer of funds from over invoiced contracts
  • Sale of crude oil at below market prices
  • Sale of gold at below market prices
  • Advance fees or ‘gifts’ requested to enable Swiss company to be awarded lucrative tender
  • Advance fees to finalize an offer of employment

Individuals should be on the look out for the following:

  • An unsolicited email from someone unknown to you inviting you to share in a multi-million dollar profit or inheritance;
  • In some instances a known person sends an email with a distress message. Usually the message is one that suggests this person is in a difficult situation without access to money and is requesting money from you to be sent to a specific account. If you receive a distress email from someone you know, double check with that person before sending any money;
  • To access an inheritance or profit, you are requested to provide bank details. You are also subsequently requested to pay money or a fee to a bank to enable the said money to be transferred into your account;
  • Documentation is provided to convince you. Usually ‘official’ letter heads, signatures, signs and seals are used, however these are almost always forged.

Sometimes the scam can be more personal:

  • A friend or fiancé you have met online requests for loans to take care of medical problems with a promise to repay upon the inheritance of some family property;
  • You send money for visas or plane tickets but your friend or fiancé cannot seem to make it out of Ghana;
  • When your friend does try to leave the country, h/she is detained by immigration officials demanding payment or bribes.

Swiss Businesses should look out for the following:

  • An unsolicited letter, email or from an unknown person or company claiming to have won a tender to procure goods or services for the government;
  • A request to procure goods and services;
  • Forged official looking documents sent in support of procurement or contract;
  • The confidential nature of the transaction is emphasized;
  • The victim is enticed to travel to Ghana, Benin, Togo or a nearby country, those who fall victim can be kidnapped and a ransom required from their family;
  • Blank letterheads and invoices are requested from the victim along with their banking particulars, this is usually used to forge documents to request visas from the Swiss Embassy in that country;
  • Fees are requested for processing the transaction with each fee purported to be the last required;
  • There are usually claims of strong ties to local government officials;
  • A Ghanaian residing in London or other foreign country may claim to be a clearing house bank for the Central Bank of Ghana;
  • Offices in legitimate government buildings may even be used by impostors posing as the real occupants or officials.

If you feel you are currently involved in the above described scheme:

  1. Do not respond to a 419 solicitation
  2. Do not transfer any money. Note that any money transferred cannot be retrieved.
  3. Do not send your business letter head or signature to a 419 solicitation. It can be used on forged documents.

If you have questions you may contact the Swiss Embassy in Accra, Ghana:

Tel.: +233 302 225 008
+233 302 248 226
Fax: +233 302 223 583