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From: United States Postal Inspection Service, Nigerian Prince Scam
Time: 11:05:54 AM
We have all heard about the Nigerian letter scams but from what we can see here, people continue to get taken and for big money. It makes sense to review the Post Office's memo on the subject.
United States Postal Inspection Service
The Nigerian Prince Scam Against Business Owners
U.S. Postal Inspectors warn that American businesses are being targeted by a "Nigerian prince" for an old-fashioned confidence swindle purportedly offering huge sums of money from the Nigerian government. This scheme, through implausible at first glance, has achieved remarkable success among unwitting American entrepreneurs.
This is how the scheme works. American companies are contacted by mail by a mysterious Nigerian businessman with an impressive, and probably fictitious, title such as "prince," "chief" or "doctor." The writer states that he is contacting the American business on a referral and that he is operating with the knowledge of Nigerian government officials.
Offering only the sketchiest of details, the writer explains that a large some of money, usually from $10 million to $30 million, is available from the government of Nigeria, if the American firm will act as the accepting agent. For this service, the American firm can expect to receive a fee of 30 percent or more of the amount transferred. The balance is to be paid to the Nigerian accomplices.
The letter instructs the interested recipient to forward three copies of "stamped and signed letter-headed papers," three copies of "stamped and signed pro forma invoices," and the name of the American company's bank and its account number. These documents will permit the Nigerian officials to proceed with the "remittance approval" and transfer of funds.
Executives who have fallen prey to this scheme were invited to visit Nigeria and meet with their fellow conspirators before finalizing the transfer of funds. During the visit they were introduced to the Nigerian government officials who supposedly could approve transfers of funds. The American visitors were also required to put down a small deposit to show good faith and help defray some of the expenses of their ambitious hosts, including bribes to the proper authorities.
Several victims reported that this shakedown took some menacing turns, causing them concern for their personal safety. One unlucky visitor recalled being confronted by two Nigerians in military fatigues carrying automatic weapons before being admitted to his host's compound. This visitor was strip searched by government security agents and was forced to turn over $4,000 in travelers' checks to his accomplice before receiving permission to leave the county.
For the most gullible, additional demands for money will be made by the Nigerian confidant as long as the American will pay. The biggest rip-off is a "tax" that must be paid before the ultimate payoff, which of course, never materializes. One victim admitted paying more than $400,000 before reporting the fraud to authorities.
The arrogant perpetrators of this scheme know that few victims will step forward to complain for fear of implicating themselves in a fraud being committed on the government of Nigeria. Anyone who has been victimized should contact the Postal Inspection Service, Field Operations Support Center, Memphis, TN 38161-0006, or call 1-800-372-8347.