"Nigerian" letters, checks, lotteries and grant scams
Beware of the Nigerian letter scam which can reach you by mail, email, or fax. This is a ploy from someone outside of the United States asking for your assistance in transferring millions of dollars from their country to your bank account. If you allow this unknown person access to your bank account, they promise to share with you a percentage of the funds transferred. Instead, your money is transferred OUT of your bank account and you end up with nothing! The scam has many variances ranging from the money being left from "contract overages" which they will share with you, to "widows" asking for your assistance to get money and children out of the country to protect them from corrupt government officials. More recently, the scam artist indicates that you are an heir to an estate and request your personal information so that they may transfer funds to you. Other perpetrators of this scam are from the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Netherlands. You should disregard all such notices.
The following are synopses of Nigerian letters and other scams received by our Louisville Consumer Protection office from residents in Kentucky. Samples have been compiled in this document. (1.61mb PDF)
South African scam through mail, July 2002
Transfer of $152 million from an Auditor General of a bank in Africa looking for a receiving individual to be “quiet and honest”, to provide a new or existing bank account, believe in God, and never let the sender down. The sender discovered a “floating fund”. The owner of the account died and had no heir or beneficiary. A first transfer of $52 million would be transacted and if successful, the remaining would then be transferred. The money could not be transferred to a local resident of the South Africa, but only to a “foreigner” with a valid passport and driver’s license because the funds are in the United States Dollar (USD). The owner of the account was also a “foreigner”, e.g. United States citizen. The sender states “Got the receiver’s contact address from the Girl who operates computer”. The sender refers to God again and tells the recipient to send the private telephone, fax, and account number for the deposit. He wants to meet “face to face” to sign a binding agreement and will travel to the country to withdraw and share the investments. The receiver of the letter would receive 35% and the sender 60%, while 5% will be for expenses of both parties.
South African scam through mail, December 2002
South African letter, signed in blue ink. Transfer of $15.75 million from an employee of the South African Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources. An individual by the name of Mr. Thompson had once held an investment with the Ministry. The investment had matured and an attempt to contact relatives had been made. They contacted the receiver of the document since he had the same last name and country of residence and offered to appoint the receiver beneficiary. The sender assures nothing to worry about, safe, and no risk. Keep confidential. Money will be paid directly to the bank. The sender and his partner receive 60% while the receiver gets the remaining. Correspondence includes a confidential phone number to contact.
Email scam, June 2005
Republic of Benin letter, Transfer of $4.352 million from the Director of Operation with a bank in Benin-Cotonou. A national of the U.S. was a consultant/contractor in Benin-Cotonou, killed in an air crash. No next-of-kin. Sender obtained information of receiver through an internet search and is looking for someone “to pull the money from the bank before corrupt government officials confiscate the money.” The sender wants to go into “partnership” and assures that the interest will be protected. If no claim to the funds, money will revert to the Benin government and be used to sponsor war in Africa. The money is to be put in receiver’s account and shared 40% for the receiver, 60% for the sender. An application to apply to the bank as the next of kin is needed, and requests the receiver e-mail private address or contact phone number.
Lottery scam through US mail, June 2005
Consumer received a phone call from England indicating they had won a lottery (lump sum of $52,940) from a pool of 25,000 names and would receive a check in the mail. Keep award private until claim processed and money in account. A check in for $4,996.77 was also sent in the mail. Contact with a claim agent for finalizing the payment process by wire transfer or cashier’s check. Signed in ink and included an embossed seal.
Ghana email scam, July 2005
Transfer of $6.5 million from Barrister Peter Rogas, an attorney in ACCRA GHANA. Client was involved in a plane crash. The attorney is attempting to reach extended relatives to receive the funds within 60 working days, as beneficiary. Directives and needed information will be relayed as soon as interest is indicated, presented as a business opportunity, 100% risk free. Receiver entitled to 30%, sender $60, and 10% for expenses. Keep secret until conclusion of deal. Contact via e-mail or phone.
Spanish lottery through mail, October 2005
Consumer received letter stating an award final notice and approval for a lump sum of $615,810.00. Chosen from a computer ballot system drawn from 25,000 names. They request you contact the “claim agent” to begin the lottery claim. If not claimed by November 17, 2005, funds will be returned. Included with letter is a “payment processing form” requesting account info.
New York lottery scam and check through mail, October 2005
Consumer received letter in the mail stating she won a lottery and was approved for a lump sum payout. But first, she was to pay a bond for the funds. This money would be advanced as the lottery understands many people cannot pay this bond out right. A check for $4,350.60 was provided as the advancement. The recipient is to keep winning information confidential until claim is processed and the money is received. The check was not valid.
Money order scam through mail, November 2005
Consumer received an official notice of un-awarded money in the amount of $3,700,300.00. Money will go to someone else if paperwork not submitted. Send $20.00 document fee. Un-awarded cash must be awarded as guaranteed by law. Includes what would appear to be an official FORM W-915.
Cashier's check e-mail scam, November 2005
Consumer received an email from an individual from London, United Kingdom. A cashier’s check for $18,230.11 was deposited into the consumer’s bank and money orders were sent to sender’s designees. After dispersing all monies to the designees, $167.00 remained in the consumer’s account. The consumer was then notified by the bank that the check received was fraudulent. The bank is now holding the consumer responsible for all monies disbursed.
Letter from United States Secret Service regarding the November 2005 e-mail and cashier’s check for $18,230.11.
Do not respond!
The Attorney General’s office has received several complaints from consumers across the commonwealth concerning grant scams. According to most complaints, an individual phones the consumer and states they may assist the consumer with obtaining grant money for education purposes. The consumer then gives personal identifying information to the caller. The caller is to send the appropriate paperwork for application for grants. The paperwork is never received, and the perpetrator now has the personal identifying information of the consumer.
If you receive any of these correspondences via phone, email, or mail, do not respond, do not provide your account information, and do not attempt to deposit any checks from these contacts. Your bank may hold you responsible for any non-sufficient funds deposited into your account.