Spotting scams

Advance fee scams

What is an advance fee scam?

This is when the scammer will convince you that to receive high-value goods, prizes or loans, you'll need to pay an upfront fee. You'll never receive the goods, prizes or loans. This is also known as 'payment in advance fraud'.

Tips on how to spot an advance fee scam

  • You’re asked to pay an upfront fee to receive money, a prize/service or goods, even though you weren’t expecting any goods.
  • You’re asked to pay an upfront fee for a training programme or background check for a job that may not exist.
  • You’re told that the fee is fully refundable and will be used as a deposit or an administrative charge.
  • They'll ask for another fee to secure the prize or high-value goods.
  • They'll pressure you to pay the fee quickly.
  • The domain name on the link in the message does not match the organisation's name.

Steps to protect yourself

  1. 01

    Always question when asked to pay upfront money for goods or services you haven't ordered.

  2. 02

    Winning a competition or the lottery that you haven’t entered is very unlikely. It's also very unlikely that you'd then need to an upfront fee to get access to the prize.

  3. 03

    Double-check the email address of recruiters. They would most likely use a business address rather than Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail e.g. sarah@businessname.com.

  4. 04

    Be vigilant on social media platforms i.e. LinkedIn as scammers may post jobs that don't exist.

How to report a suspicious email

If you have received a fraudulent or suspicious email, and not responded to it, please forward the email to phishing@iombank.com.


However, if you have responded to the email, and/or you suspect that any of your accounts with us have been accessed online by someone other than yourself, please contact us immediately on:

0800 161 5154
Call +44 (0) 1268 50074 from abroad

Calls may be recorded.

Other content you might find helpful...

Identity theft

Identity theft is when a fraudster steals your personal information to impersonate you, open accounts, obtain credit or set up businesses.

Pension scams

A fraudster encouraging someone with access to their pension to move funds, where the money may be lost or unreasonably charged.

Impersonation fraud

Criminals pretend to be a trusted organisation, may say your account is at risk and ask you to move your money to a ‘safe account’.