Indians sent out $870 million to “world’s most successful scam” Advance Fee Frauds (AFF) in 2013 alone, making it one of the most gullible nation internationally, according to a report by Ultrascan-AGI (download report – pdf).

According to the report, the scammers are now increasingly targeting Asian countries such as Malaysia, China, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Vietnam, apart from India.

This is an alarming trend as the scammers have managed to double the amount of money stolen from Indians in two years. Scammers generally request a small advance fee from victims to process “lottery winnings” or to transfer an alleged cheque. Internationally, this scam has led to losses of $12.77 billion in 2013 alone. spam_loss_india

The research group told Hindustan Times that India was one of the biggest victims of this fraud. It estimates that nearly 4,700 scammers are active and residing in India, about a 20-fold increase from 2006.

These scammers residing in India end up sharing 80% of their earnings with rings outside the country. This is worrying news as terrorist organizations are known to use funds thus earned to finance their operations. In an earlier report, the company had pointed out the use of AFF by Boko Haram, an affiliate of Al-Qaeda.

Scammers using this methodology are active in 69 countries as of now (see map). In India alone, there are 49 scam rings operating that use AFF to steal money from the public, making it the sixth largest internationally. There are also 1,610 individuals in India that are using this scheme to dupe people, making it the fifth largest in the world, after US, Ghana, China and Nigeria.