Advance fee frauds ask for payment up front before the deal can go through. The advance payment may be described as a fee, tax, commission, or incidental expense that will be repaid later.
One example is the so-called Nigerian advance fee fraud, where someone pretending to be a Nigerian official or businessperson promises high profits for help moving money out of Nigeria. This scam is so prevalent that the U.S. Secret Service has a task force devoted to it. For more information, read the alert on the Secret Service's website.
Other advance fee frauds try to fool investors with official-sounding websites and e-mail addresses. These addresses may contain ".gov" and end in “.us” or “.org.” U.S. government agency websites or e-mail addresses end in “.gov,” “.mil,” or “fed.us.” Be wary of a website or correspondence claiming to be from a U.S. government agency whose e-mail address does not end in “.gov”, “.mil”, or “fed.us”.