“419” advance fee fraud letters bearing Republique Togolaise postage stamps

This notice is issued by the Financial Supervision Commission (“the Commission”) in accordance with thepowers conferred upon it under Section 22 of the Financial Supervision Act 1988.

“419” advance fee fraud letters bearing Republique Togolaise postage stamps

So called “419” letters are named after the relevant section of the Nigerian Penal Code. They are sent with the purpose of luring the recipient into becoming a victim of advance fee fraud. They have gained their colloquial name due to the prevalence of them originating from Nigeria, however, they may now arrive (or appear to arrive) from many countries worldwide. Many are now sent using email, commonly originating from “web based” email accounts.

Information has recently been received by the Commission indicating that a substantial quantity of suspected “419” letters have recently arrived in the United Kingdom. Although unconfirmed, it is possible that some of these letters may be addressed to recipients within the Isle of Man.

The information which the Commission has received indicates that the majority of the letters are addressed to electrical contractors, alarm installers, construction industry companies, garages, car parts companies, picture shops, artist suppliers, restaurants and opticians. Recipients outside of these occupations may well also have been targeted. The letters all bear a single small 450F Togo postage stamp. Most are in plain white or brown hand written envelopes, however, a quantity are in window envelopes which have printed on them, amongst other things, the words “TOP BOND”.

“419” letters typically set out various scenarios but will commonly give some reason why the sender needs the services of the recipient in moving substantial sums of money. The precise reasons given for the existence of the money and the need for the involvement of the recipient are many and varied. In most instances the letter will offer a large share of the money to the recipient in payment
for their services. Usually the letters will state that secrecy is absolutely essential.

In reality, anyone responding to such letters will soon find themself being required to make various payments ahead of receipt of the money. This is the advance fee fraud. Ultimately the fraudster will disappear taking the advance fees with them.

In some instances the fraud has been perpetrated against individual victims over long periods of time and losses to the victim have run into thousands or on occasion millions of pounds.

Persons receiving letters matching the above description, from wherever posted, should under no circumstances respond to them.

If you are resident within the Isle of Man and have already replied to one of these letters or, more importantly, if you have already paid any money over in respect of one, you should contact the Isle of Man Financial Crime Unit without delay by writing to:

The Officer in Charge
Isle of Man Constabulary
Financial Crime Unit
PO Box 51
Isle of Man
IM99 2TD.
The Financial Crime Unit can be contacted by telephone on:

or by email at:

Persons who have responded or paid money in respect of these letters and are resident outside the Isle of Man should contact their local police without delay.