Advertisement

Nigeria Mail Scam Back With Come-Ons to Local Businesses

TIMES STAFF WRITER

At least a dozen local business owners have been targeted in recent weeks by an international fraud ring and police on Wednesday were warning others to be wary of letters from overseas that promise easy money.

A barrage of letters from Lagos, Nigeria, are arriving at local businesses with a bogus offer: Get thousands of dollars for accepting a covert, international money transfer to your bank account. Only later is the victim told of a last-minute expense--a tax, government bribe or transaction fee--that needs to be sent first.

The scam is well-known and often called the “Nigerian advance-fee fraud.” The scams likely take in hundreds of millions of dollars each year from victims across the country, according to the U.S. Secret Service, which handles about 100 calls every day from people nationwide who have received the letters.

The letters have arrived in recent weeks at a local restaurant, a computer store and a small roofing company, Eggen said, and he suspects that the addresses and owners’ names were accessed via the Internet or a business licensing list.

Advertisement

So far, no one targeted by the recent Garden Grove mailing has reported losing any money, but Eggen said he is concerned that it may take weeks or months before victims realize they have been scammed.

“And then they basically have no recourse,” Eggen said, adding that police and federal agents can offer little hope of recovering the money.

The Nigerian government has refused to cooperate with extradition efforts regarding the suspected culprits behind the advance-fee fraud, and victims have had little or no luck trying to recoup their losses, officials said.

Authorities said they believe that 15 foreign businessmen have been murdered while traveling to Nigeria to confront their victimizers and recover their money.

Advertisement

Garden Grove residents who receive a suspicious letter of Nigerian origin are asked to call Eggen at (714) 741-5877.

The Secret Service also asks that the letters be reported to Special Agent James W. Caldwell at (202) 435-5850. Recipients may also mail a copy of the letter to Caldwell at 1800 G Street N.W., Room 942, Washington, D.C., 20223.


Advertisement
Advertisement