Idaho businesses inundated with “Nigerian scam” faxes
Businesses all over Idaho – and even our 6 On Your Side/Fox 9 newsroom – were inundated with a fax blast Monday – that the Better Business Bureau says is a new version of the so-called “Nigerian scam.”
“The Nigerian scam was named so because of its popularity in the 1980s when then President Shehu Shagari was in power. A letter was first delivered and a promise of wealth detailed for compliance in helping transfer money out of the country, “said BBB sopokesman Robb Hicken in a news release.
The sender, generally claiming to be a government official, member of a royal family or someone of status, requests assistance in transferring millions of dollars of excess money out of Nigeria and promises to pay the person for his or her help.
The message is always of an "urgent, private" nature, Hicken said.
“The fraud went from postal delivery to faxes to email and most recently text messages. The request for assistance generally seeks a banking account number – to "safekeep" the funds – and Social Security number, birth date, or other personal information. Most recently, victims are asked to send money to the letter-sender for taxes or various fees,” Hicken added.
The fax received at our 6 On Your Side/Fox 9 newsroom reads, in part, “…I am the son of the late Ghanaian president who died on the 24 of July 2012. … I currently inherited the sum of ninety five million U.S. dollars which I intend to use for investment purposes specifically in your country.” The sender then asks the business for personal information, including the person’s home address, marital status, date of birth, and e-mail address, so as to “enable me to process the change of beneficiary with the bank.”
The FBI reports annual losses of millions of dollars to these schemes. Some victims have actually been lured to Nigeria, where they were imprisoned or even worse killed.
Variations of this con are attracting the attention of a new batch of victims, said Hicken.
Consumers can take steps to protect themselves against the Nigerian Letter Scam and its variations.
The BBB says:
• If you receive a letter from Nigeria, or any other country, asking you to send personal or banking information, do not reply! The BBB suggests you immediately delete or throw away any such correspondence.
• If you have already responded to such a plea, or if you know someone who is corresponding in this scheme, contact the U.S. Secret Service as soon as possible (phone: 202.406.5572 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org)
• Ignore individuals representing themselves as foreign government officials asking for your help in placing large sums of money in overseas bank accounts.
• Be leery when strangers are eager to place unexpected, large amounts of money at your disposal, in exchange for your bank account number or other personal or financial information.
• Cashier checks and money orders can be counterfeit. When a stranger sends a check or money offer to purchase a product or service from you, consult with your bank about the time it will take to verify the check, and wait for the funds to clear.