Banking & finance

FIB warns of bogus proof of funds letter

  • 4 October 2007

The ICC's financial watchdog the Financial Investigation Bureau (FIB) is alerting banks and the investment community about the recent widespread circulation of a false Proof of Funds letter.

The letter purports to originate from the Beijing office of a major Chinese bank and states that it is a proof of funds for $200 billion. The document suggests that this very large sum of money is being held in trust by the Bank of China and is available to a named individual for the purposes of investment.

Ian Rigby of the Financial Investigation Bureau commented: ” The FIB routinely investigates and reviews fraudulent documents of all kinds. This specific document contains language frequently used by perpetrators of financial fraud.”

The letter includes a common “red flag” phrase, describing the money as: “clean, cleared, unencumbered, legally and of non criminal origin.”

Dated May 8 2007, the letter also bears forged signatures of two Bank of China officials and an unauthorized bank stamp. The documents are prepared by fraudsters and Bank of China officials have no involvement in the preparation of these documents.

According to a number of members of the banking and investment community, the letter has been presented on numerous occasions. The document has principally been used to support suspicious investment ventures.

Mr Rigby added: “It is common for con artists and swindlers to present fraudulent documents like this. The appearance of significant financial backing from an establishment banking institution adds an element of credibility to their scam. Their typical approach is to extract an advance fee from an unsuspecting victim and then vanish. Fortunately, quick action from our members in the banking industry brought the letter to our attention and we were able to confirm its falsehood.”

The FIB reminds all those in the investment and banking industry that any document claiming to be a Proof of Funds letter should be reviewed with caution. Anyone involved in a transaction where such a letter is requested or presented is asked to report the details to the FIB.