The e-mail scheme I received recently was a different twist on the typical Nigerian scam.
You know the one.
A family member of a deceased businessman or government official is in dire straits Â and asks for your help in moving large sums of money out of the country.
If you help â€” by allowing the money transferred to your bank account â€” youâ€™ll share in the fortune. But first, you must send in a small fee and share your account information.
Of course itâ€™s a scam.
Moreover, it didnâ€™t take an investigation by the Minnesota Attorney Generalâ€™s office to tell me a recent e-mail supposedly sent by the Federal Inland Revenue Service in Nigeria is another version of one these advance-fee scams.
The stiffly worded formal e-mail â€œwishes to inform you that your parcel containing a Cashierâ€™s Cheque of $1,500,000 which was issued and ready to be paid in your name has been in our custody as it was withheld from the Courier Agencies wanting to manipulate the delivery of the cheque and for the unforeseen delay it has gone through before we intervene.â€
It goes on to say they have determined the check to be authentic and cashable to me alone. But before it can be released, they need my name, address and telephone number. And they need me to pay the checkâ€™s $120 insurance fee. Send the money via Western Union or Money Gram, it directs.
Thing is, the Federal Inland Revenue Service does exists in Nigeria. But that agency didnâ€™t send the e-mail. And rest of it, including names, are fake. Scammers never reveal their true identities,Â experts will tell you.
This version is a 419 scam in which victims are promised a fortune, lottery prize, job, work visa, etc., if they send a relatively small fee to the scammers. The â€œ419â€ refers to an article on fraud in the Nigerian Criminal Code.
â€œThey all promise you something,â€ according to the website, 419baitercom. â€œOf course, there is no fortune, no job, no loan, no prize to be had. Itâ€™s just a ploy to get you to willingly send them money.â€