Scams and Fraudulent Investment Schemes That Misuse Our Name
Frequently Asked Questions
  1. Should individuals and businesses look out for fraudulent investment and other scams that misuse the World Bank's name?
  2. What forms do these fraudulent schemes take?
  3. What should you do if you receive suspicious notifications about winning money to be paid by the Bank; faxes, emails, or other correspondence involving requests for money transfers or payments that reference the Bank or any member of the World Bank Group; or solicitations to open a personal bank account at the Bank?
  4. Fraudulent job postings and offers: What should you do if you receive a suspicious notification about a job posting or offer from the World Bank Group asking you to send money as part of the recruitment process?

 

1. Should individuals and businesses look out for fraudulent investment scams that misuse the World Bank's name?

Yes, individuals and businesses should take care not to fall victim to investment scams, known as Advance Fee Fraud schemes. Some of these schemes misuse our name or falsely claim to be affiliated with the World Bank Group.

Many scams, known as Advance Fee Fraud schemes, originate in Nigeria and are known as "Nigerian scams" or "4-1-9" letters after the section of the Nigerian penal code that deals with this type of fraud. Other fraud schemes have originated in Cote d'Ivoire and Sierra Leone.

Police estimate that thousands of these solicitations are sent by fax or email every week and are addressed to individuals and companies around the world. Only a very small fraction actually involves the use of the Bank's name.

Recently, two new fraudulent schemes have surfaced in South Africa. These involve solicitations to open a personal bank account at the Bank, which is not a commercial bank, as well as telephone messages left by perpetrators notifying potential victims that they have won money that can be redeemed at the World Bank.

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2. What forms do these fraudulent schemes take?

We've seen increased use of sophisticated forms and letterhead to send what appears to be legitimate World Bank Group correspondence, as well as several schemes that reference the Bank. Also, scam artists sometimes falsely represent themselves as Bank auditors or members of the Bank West African Regional Delegation.

Recently, correspondence was sent by fax to creditors of West African governments, claiming that the senders were empowered by these governments to repay past debts. Official-looking Bank letterhead was used.

Typically, the solicitations asked potential victims to provide personal information such as signatures or bank account information, and to pay certain advance fees, often described as "processing fees." In return, the potential victim was promised sums of money that the person soliciting the "fees" had no intention of paying. In some cases, those seeking the funds used the names of actual Bank staff members to sign the letters in order to bolster their credibility.

Here's an example of such a scam using official-looking Bank letterhead and signature. See example (pdf).

In South Africa, one new scheme involves notification in a message left on a cell phone that the recipient has won money to be paid by the Bank. The message directs the person to call a certain number to arrange payment. This scam was uncovered when the potential victim arrived at a Bank office in country seeking payment, because the telephone number in another country, which was left on the person’s cell phone, fortunately failed to connect.

View an example (pdf) of this type of personal banking scheme.

We have no involvement in such schemes, and we caution the public to be very wary of these and other similar solicitations that falsely claim to be affiliated with the Bank or any member of the World Bank Group.

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3. What should you do if you receive suspicious notifications about winning money to be paid by the Bank; faxes, emails, or other correspondence involving requests for money transfers or payments that reference the Bank or any member of the World Bank Group; or solicitations to open a personal bank account at the Bank?

If you receive what seems to be an unusual money request from person(s) representing to be members of the World Bank Group, or have concerns as to the authenticity of the World Bank Group's actual involvement in a particular transaction, solicitation, notification, directive or request, do NOT respond to the request and do NOT send any money or provide any of your personal bank account details. 

If you would like to verify whether any particular individual is a World Bank employee, please contact the World Bank's Human Resources Service Center at 202-473-2222 or hrsoperations@worldbank.org The HR Service Center provides employment verification for World Bank employees.

If you would like to verify whether a particular individual who claims to represent the World Bank is a World Bank employee, please contact the World Bank's Human Resources Service Center at 202-473-2222 or hrsoperations@worldbank.org.  The HR Service Center provides employment verification for World Bank employees.   

The World Bank does not typically investigate these types of scams.  If you feel you have been the victim of such a scam you should contact local law enforcement authorities. 

Further information on these types of schemes can be found on various websites, including those of the FBI, the US Treasury and the Securities and Exchange Commission:

https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-fraud-schemes/advance-fee-schemes https://www.occ.gov/topics/consumer-protection/fraud-resources/advance-fee-fraud.html
https://www.sec.gov/fast-answers/answersadvancefeefraudhtm.html

 

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4. Fraudulent job postings and offers: What should you do if you receive a suspicious notification about a job posting or offer from the World Bank Group asking you to send money as part of the recruitment process?

There is a worldwide scheme involving fraudulent job postings and offers purporting to be from or associated with the World Bank Group. The scheme is used to falsely obtain money and/or personal information.

The World Bank Group does not request any amount of money as part of its recruitment process.

Official communication from the World Bank Group will always come from emails ending in either @worldbank.org or @ifc.org. If you believe that you are a potential victim of a fraudulent job offer, please forward any related information you have received to ethics_helpline@worldbank.org.

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Last Updated: Sep 10, 2018