Got one of those rather obvious scam emails the other day claiming I had won the lottery in a foreign country – in this case the Netherlands – and, predictably telling me I would have to come over to Holland and fill in official papers and pay for them to get access to my huge win… There’s been a fair bit of this on the news of late and while I am too smart and far too bloody cynical to fall for something like this a lot of people do fall for them through a mixture of trust, lack of guile or plain greed. Anyway, I forwarded it to the Web Police and got this repsonse within 24 hours. I doubted they could do much to be honest, but thought it wouldn’t hurt to pass on the details. You never know when this and other storied files may be useful for evidence, so pass it on.
I am Officer ****** of the International Web Police. After screening your case we have found that this is a scam called the “Nigeria Letter “Scam or a “419 Scam”.
4-1-9 Schemes frequently use the following tactics:
An individual or company receives a letter or fax from an alleged “official” representing a foreign government or agency;
An offer is made to transfer millions of dollars in “over invoiced contract” funds into your personal bank account;
You are encouraged to travel overseas to complete the transaction;
You are requested to provide blank company letterhead forms, banking account information, telephone/fax numbers;
You receive numerous documents with official looking stamps, seals and logo testifying to the authenticity of the proposal;
Eventually you must provide up-front or advance fees for various taxes, attorney fees, transaction fees or bribes;
Other forms of 4-1-9 schemes include: c.o.d. of goods or services, real estate ventures, purchases of crude oil at reduced prices, beneficiary of a will, recipient of an award and paper currency conversion.
The advice we can give you is the following:
1. Don’t communicate with these people at all.
2. Forward all e-mail to the Secret service at http://www.secretservice.gov/contact_fcd.shtml
3. Don’t sign any papers
4. Don’t give them any money.
5. Forward their Email to abuse@ Yahoo, Hotmail, Mailcity, or whatever their mail host is so that their account can be shut down
The operators behind this mail are usually sitting behind an anonymous computer in an Internet café. And are very difficult to track.”