How the scam works

The scam varies, but usually you will receive a letter, or more often, a fax or email offering you a business “proposal” or transaction. The person writing may claim they are a government official, the widow of a government official, or from a charity or business group. In all cases, they promise you a benefit or reward in return for your help in offloading some cash or other commodity.

To ensure a “hitch free transfer” of your share of the windfall, they will often ask for your bank account details. This is only the beginning. Once you’re hooked, you’ll be asked to pay all sorts of “advance fees” (eg customs, taxes, bribes) to facilitate the transfer. These fees are the real purpose of the scam, and may add up to tens of thousands of dollars. Over US $5 billion from gullible victims has been lost to scamsters.

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