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Getting Hooked by a Scam Artist Can Be Costly!
 

They come by mail, phone and email. Sometimes you hear about them from a friend or relative. They're hot overseas investment clubs, currency trading schemes, prizes you've won in contests or overseas lottos that you never knew you entered, or ways to avoid paying taxes. They're pleas for help from a 'banker' or 'government official' in Nigeria, or offers to broker a 'business' deal. One thing they all have in common - these scams require you to pay out cash now in order to receive the promised return (which does not exist).

How to Report These Scams:

The Secret Service investigates crimes associated with financial institutions. Today, this jurisdiction includes bank fraud, access device fraud involving credit and debit cards, telecommunications and computer crimes, fraudulent identification, fraudulent government and commercial securities, and electronic funds transfer fraud.

Federal Trade Commission

www.ftc.gov/ftc/consumer.htm

 

Commodity Futures Trading Commission

Currency Trading Fraud Site

www.cftc.gov/enf/enfforex.htm

 

Secret Service

http://www.secretservice.gov/financial_crimes.shtml


You should contact the Internet Fraud Complaint Center online to file a complaint for anything you believe to be cyber-crime or scams perpetrated via email. This center is a computer-related fraud complaint site for the FBI and National White Collar Crime Center:

http://www.ic3.gov/

Currency Trading Scams

Foreign currency trading scams are the fastest growing financial scam today. Over the past 5 years, more than 25,000 investors have been burned by currency trading frauds. Scam artists solicit over the phone or woo them at hotel presentations, set up booths at investor fairs or use brochures. One popular scheme promises investors fat profits if they move quickly in on a time-sensitive currency trading opportunity. The money then disappears or is taken up in unprofitable trades. A common scam is for con artists to rent a telemarketing boiler room with phones and offices and start cold calling numbers from a list of leads they purchase. They promise large guaranteed returns, promote their 'track record' and ask that a minimum investment be wired to a particular bank. If the investor bites, the calls continue, saying more money is needed to take advantage of an urgent trading opportunity. When the investor ask for the money back the response is the the market has shifted, then a month or two later the company closes. The next day they're up and running under a new name. Florida is a particular hotspot for these schemes.

Not all people who solicit investors to trade currencies are regulated, making them difficult to detect and monitor. In recent years, foreign exchange fraud cases have jumped to 28% of the currency litigation by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the government body responsible for regulating a portion of currency trading.

If you're considering investing in currencies, some resources to protect yourself:

CFTC's currency fraud site: www.cftc.gov/enf/enfforex.htm

Contact the National Futures Association at 800-676-4NFA to ask if a company is  a member of the NFA or registered with the CFTC, and to check the disciplinary record of the company or a salesman.

To check a firm's record: www.nfa.futures.org/basicnet

Check if a company has attracted the attention of other authorities like your state's securities commissioner (www.nasaa.org) or Attonrey General's consumer protection buruea (www.naag.org).

 

'Activation Fees' or 'Transfer Taxes'

People often fall victim to greed when they get emails or letters or calls notifying them that $20 million to $100 million or more is going to come to them if they help transfer the money for somebody.

The following letter is a sample one you might receive when responding to an email telling you that you have $20 million to $100 million or more waiting for you in an account in the Netherlands or England, transferred from Africa:

"We write to you in respect of your mail sent to us. Madam note your sum was wired to our office in bonded form and with high insurance policy. the purpose of this policy is to safeguard the transfer of your money to your nominated bank account, it is impossible to deduct the activation fee from your sum (principal amount), it must be transferred in full remittance to your nominated
bank account.

Note: Once you pay the activation fees, it will be added to your sum, it is still your money, the balance will now be, USD$100,000,005M +(Added) to 12,500E. This activation fee will be added to your Principal amount . The Real time Balance (RTB) will now be Principal amount USD$100,000,005M + Activation fee 12,500 Euro. Upon this payment an authorization code will automatically be given to you, for you to further your sum transfer to your nominated bank account via our online system. this activation fee you are paying will reflect in your Saving account immediately. The basic fact is by
law, The activation fee is still your money, it will be added to your balance.

Madam (or Sir), your understanding to this very matter would be greatly appreciated, to enhance the successful conclusion of your transaction with us. Note that as
soon as you pay this fee, that you must confirm the transfer of your sum within 48HR with our online banking system, We await to your urgent response (classic phrase used by con artists).

Consequently, find below the name of our accounting clerk for you to send the activation fee, via Western union Monetary transfer (no legitimate financial institution asks for money to be sent Western Union. They request this because there is no way to trace it - classic technique of con artists). to us, for finalisation of
your transaction.

(1) Bright Carlos Ogebe.
(2) Jerry Brown.
Address: 951 Arenaplein, 1155Bh Amsterdam The Netherlands.

Endeavour to send the (MTCN)western union money transfer control  number for us to cash the payment. (you'll never see this money or be able to contact these people again).

Yours Faithfully,
Ms Lucia Van Brooke
Online Banking Supervision Officer pdsbf/nl.
 

Tax Collection Scams

In September 2006, the IRS turned over collection of a small number of taxpayer debts to three private collection agencies.  On occasion, people have seen bogus letters, telephone calls and emails all pretending to be official IRS collection efforts.

The LEGITIMATE programs works like this:

1. You get a letter from the IRS saying you're in the collection program and naming the collection agency that have been given your account

2. You receive a letter from the collection agency confirming that they will be in touch with you to discuss payment.

3. When you come to make payment, the collection agency will provide you an official IRS payment coupon. The coupon will require the check be made out to the U.S. Treasury, NOT the collection agency.

Scam Warning Signs: threats to place liens or seize property by the collection agency, and request for personal or banking info. The legitimate collection agencies are authorized only to discuss payment schedules and collect the debt. They will not ask for social security numbers or bank account passwords.

Any concerns about any tax collection contact you receive, call the IRS at 800-829-1040.

Overseas Investment Club Scams

There are too many to list here, but one we encounter very frequently is overseas currency investing clubs. You pay a few hundred dollars up front and are told that in a few months you will get a return of several thousand dollars, and a few months after that a return of several hundred thousand dollars. All for your initial investment of $500 or so. They tell you to form an IBC or offshore trust and get an offshore bank account.

Not a single one we've encountered yet has EVER paid any return whatsoever!
This is a pyramid and Ponzi scheme. The first investors may get some money back (paid with money invested by later investors) but that is only to encourage you to invest an even greater amount, which you will lose.The spread of the Internet and email, which makes it possible to target millions of potential victims quickly and inexpensively has caused a surge in investment scams.

You may receive an invitation to earn double-digit returns in prime securities, supposedly secret investments known only to major banks. Unfortunately, there's no such market. You may be invited to join an overseas investment club that promises $80,000 return at the end of 5 years and $9,000 per month for life - all for your investment of only about $1,500.

You may be offered the chance to start your own home-based business with promises of fantastic earnings. Too often, these turn out to be pyramid schemes where profits are based primarily on your recruiting others to join the program.
Another common scam is the 'pump and dump' scheme. A promoter will plant favorable stories on Web sites and in chat groups about a stock he owns, leading to a buying surge and a rise in share price. He then sells at the pumped-up price, leaving investors to discover too late that the stories were complete lies and the stock price crashes.

Counterfeit Check Scams

This is a recent but fast-growing scam, that has duped some of the brightest people in the U.S. The criminal starts by sending YOU a check or money order. Let's say you post a resume or an item for sale online. The criminal says he wants to hire you, or buy what you're selling. He offers to send you a check from somebody who owes him money - a check for MORE than your wages or asking price. You are instructed to deposit the check and wire the excess to a third party (who is the scammer or an accomplice of his).

Your bank must make deposited funds available to you within 5 days. But his check is a skillful forgery that may not bounce for 3 weeks. When it does, your bank subtracts the amount of that check from your account. The average loss in this type of scam is $5,200.

Tax Scams

The IRS recently warned taxpayers about the latest tax scams. These include abusive trust schemes, where scam artists offer to set up a series of trusts that they claim will shield virtually all your income from taxes. Of course, you pay several thousand dollars in upfront fees for the promoter to set up the trust. Trusts are always under investigation by the government, especially offshore trusts, because so many of them are fraudulent. Many trusts have no regulations restricting how they must be set up - they are totally creative and can be set up in any way by anyone. A trust is only as good as the person setting it up. Legitimate trusts are for estate planning purposes only - NOT for tax evasion. Legitimate trusts are set up by attorneys only.

Other tax scams offer to show you how to deduct personal household costs as business expenses or to sell you the 'secret' of opting out of the tax system.

If you invest in one of these tax scams, you will find yourself facing civil and even criminal penalties. The IRS currently has over 800 promoters of tax scams under investigation. The IRS gets the customer/client list for each one of these promoters and investigates each person on the list.

THERE ARE NO LEGITIMATE AND LEGAL WAYS TO EVADE U.S. INCOME TAX if you have earned income!! You can minimize or defer taxes but never evade them legally.

How to Protect Yourself

Never invest in anything unless you have the full details in writing, full disclosure and references on the company offering the investment, and full understanding of the investment. Remember that if something seems too good to be true, (someone wants to give you thousands or millions of dollars for doing virtually nothing, or an investment promises incredible returns, or someone says you can evade U.S. income taxes), it almost certainly is. You do NOT get handed millions of dollars for doing nothing! There are no such things as 'transfer taxes' or 'bond purchases' for you to pay, to receive money you're being promised.

Nigeria, Netherlands Lotto, and Overseas 'Family Inheritance' Financial Scams 

Our company gets so many calls from people wanting to form a Bahamas IBC because they are convinced they are about to get millions of dollars from Nigeria or an overseas 'inheritance' from a deceased family member (both of which are professional scams) that we've decided to try to address it here.

First of all, remember that no one gets millions of dollars for doing nothing - unless you buy a winning legitimate lottery ticket. Professional con artists target vulnerable people who are out of work, struggling financially, or otherwise willing to throw caution to the winds when faced with the prospect of easy, instant money. Greed is the oldest of all human emotions to prey upon.

Nigeria Bank Scams

Any offer coming out of Nigeria is, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, a financial scam.

 

No legitimate funds ever come out of Nigeria.

 

Despite numerous reports in the national news media over the past few years, and a special branch of the Secret Service and FBI set up to deal with nothing but Nigerian financial scams, Americans are still falling for this oldest of all financial cons. These messages originate from boiler room operations in Nigeria that randomly target tens of thousands of people, says Edward Nasiatka, a retired U.S. Secret Service supervisor who was head of the interagency West Africa Task Force in New York. The problem is so huge that a special branch of the U.S. Secret Service and the Federal Trade Commission are set up to deal with nothing else but Nigerian financial scams.

Here's how it works:

 

Claiming to be Nigerian officials, con artists offer in an email to you (that's also been emailed to at least two million other Americans) to transfer millions of dollars into your bank account in exchange for a small fee. If you respond to the initial email 'offer' you may receive official-looking documents. Typically, you are then asked to provide a blank letterhead and your bank account numbers, as well as some money to cover 'transaction and transfer costs' and attorney's fees. (note: there are no transfer fees ever required to transfer money internationally, that request alone marks it as a financial scam). You may even be encouraged to travel to Nigeria or a border country to complete the fictitious transaction. Sometimes, the scammers will depict trunks of dyed or stamped money to verify their claims. Inevitably, 'emergencies' come up, requiring more of your money and delaying the transfer of the promised fortune. In the end, there is no money, only losses and the con artist vanishes along with your money.

 

Following is an example of one of the Nigerian emails virtually everyone in America with an email address has received by now:


"Dear: Sir/Madam,

 
Courtesy of Business opportunity, I take liberty anchored on strong desire to solicit for your assistance on this mutual beneficial and risk free transaction with you, which I hope you give urgent attention. To be precise, I am Mr. Francis Johnson the Manager of Bills/Exchange at the Foreign Exchange/Remittance Department of UNION BANK OF NIGERIA PLC. In my department, we discovered an abandoned sum of US$12,524,000.00 (Twelve Million, Five Hundred and Twenty Four Thousand United States
Dollars) in an account that belongs to one of our customers who died along with his entire family in 1988 Lockerbie Pan American Airline plane crash. (NOTE THE BLATANT PLAY ON SYMPATHY, REFERRING TO THE LOCKERBIE CRASH. THIS IS A CHARACTERISTIC OF CON MEN, - TO PLAY ON SYMPATHIES)
 
Since we got information about his death, we have been expecting his next of Kin to come over and claim his money, because we can not release it unless somebody
applied for its next of Kin or Relation to the deceased as indicated in our banking procedure, but unfortunately to no avail, and nobody has come forward to claim the money (because the mentioned next of kin which is Son died as well).
 
Therefore, upon this discovery I and other two officials in my department now decide to establish a cordial business relationship with you, hence my contacting you. We want you to purportedly present your good self as the next of Kin or relation of the deceased so that we can prepare documentations and release the funds (US$12.524 Million) into your account for safety and subsequent disbursement since nobody is coming for it and again we do not want the funds to go into the Governments account as “Unclaimed Bill”.
 
The banking law and procedures herein stipulates that any account abandoned or dormant for a period of some years is subjected to be closed and all money contained therein will be forfeited to the Government Treasury Account. Now it is being speculated that the above sum will be transferred into Government Treasury Account as unclaimed funds on or before end of December 2003. The reason for you to present your good self as the next of kin in occasioned by the fact that the deceased customer was a foreigner.
 
Mode of sharing after the successful completion of the transfer is as follows, for the role you will be expected to play in the whole exercise, we have agreed to give you twenty five (25%) of the total sum, and 5% has been set aside for expenses we are going to encounter by both parties in the process of this transaction and the remaining 70% shall be for my colleagues and I. In support of the aforementioned, you are urged to reply this letter indicating your readiness and interest to participate in the business. After you reply, you will be advised on the next step forward.
 
I quite believe that you will protect our interest by keeping this business Top Secret and Confidential, as your interest will be equally protected in order to achieve and maintain maximum confidentiality. Trust to hear from you on the above Email address: francis_johnson77 at dinastyfair.com in the letter as I count on your earliest response.
 
Yours truly,
Mr. Francis Johnson"
 

 

1-888-521-6577

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(cont. from left column page)

 

Following is a new variation of the 'Nigerian' scam, this one based out of the United Kingdom: This is a typical email you would receive:
 
"My name is Mr. David Dawson and I seek your co-operation in a  proposal that I am convinced is mutually rewarding.
I work as a private Financial Consultant/Account portfolio Manager in Finance & Credit Company Limited a company based in Middlesex in the United Kingdom. In the last few years, I have managed a certain account for a Resident Foreigner here in the United Kingdom who unfortunately died intestate, leaving in our care a fairly huge amount of money in a Domiciliary United States Dollars Account. We had unsuccessfully tried to make contact with any relatives of this client over the last couple of months. Added to this , professional ethics which obligates us to act with extreme confidentiality when dealing with clients Accounts of this type has made it impossible to get round the problem of identifying a next-of –kin in this situation. Needless to say, this is the precise reason why I have made contact with you.

I URGENTLY require your assistance in securing the estate left behind by my client as any time from now it may be declared unserviceable and consequently confiscated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) here in the United Kingdom where his estate is held Indeed the FSA has issued a MANDATORY NOTICE demanding us to provide (within the next month) a next- of Kin to my client’s Estate or have same reserved to the protection of Her Majesty.

Having made futile attempts in locating any of my Client’s relatives for over two years and convinced that no one would turn up to execute a Letter of Administration, and having satisfied all legal requirements of Beneficiary/next-of-Kin Notification, I do seek your consent to put you forward and present you as the next-of –Kin of my deceased client so that proceeds from his Estate (Valued conservatively at Twenty one Million, Three Hundred and Twenty Thousand United States Dollars) can be paid into an account to be provided by your good-self (preferably outside the United Kingdom financial institutions or its Isles)

Do be assured that I am seized of all relevant documents (OUR NOTE: ANY SUCH DOCUMENTS WILL BE FORGED AND INVALID COPIES) to validate our claim presenting you as next-of-Kin and all we will do shall be within the confines of all/any UK regulating Statutes. All I ask is your co-operation and trust as we go through the various stages that will legally qualify you as the only living next-of-Kin to the Estate of my client. Of course you shall be handsomely rewarded for your involvement in this transaction and all I can say at this time is that the figures will be worth every effort and commitment that you will bring into
this transaction.

Do get back to me on this e-mail address financeadvisors60 at lycos.com. On receipt of your response , I shall provide you with a dedicated private telephone number (OUR NOTE: THIS WILL BE AN CELL PHONE THAT WILL BE CANCELLED ONCE THEY HAVE GOTTEN YOUR MONEY) with which we shall speak and upon which I shall furnish you with finer details of this transaction.

Your sincerely.
D.Dawson"
 
Please note the common denominator in these scam operations. Even without being a professional, you can detect fraud just by using your common sense. Would anyone contact a total stranger by email (you) and offer to deposit millions into an account that you set up? Of course not. You would then control all of that money and would be the only one with access to it, if you were the only signer on the account. No one in their right mind would do that.  And of course, they have no plan to do any such thing. Once they have you 'hooked' they will have you sign over power of attorney to them over your own bank account, and get from you your account information so that they can clean out your account, OR they will require you pay them a hefty 'transfer fee' before you can receive these 'millions' into your account. You will never see your money again, and you will get no money from them.
 

Overseas Family 'Inheritance' Scams

This a very disturbing scam, as the con artists apparently target specific people who have deceased parents, grandparents or any other deceased relatives. They know your name and they know the name of your relative who has died, before they contact you.
You are told that - surprise - your dead relative actually left millions for you in an overseas bank account, it's just been discovered, and they want you to claim it!

The bank that is supposedly 'holding' your money will be in many cases an actual,  legitimate bank in a respectable country such as Canada or England. However, the phone number you are given for this bank will actually be a personal cell phone number! There will be no such account with no such money at this bank (you can uncover this immediately by independently looking up the contact info for that bank and contacting them directly. Do not use the contact info they give you for the bank.

You will be shown fake wills and other very professional-looking documents. To claim your money, you will be required to purchase something they will call an 'International Guarantee Bond', or will have to pay a transfer tax or otherwise put up significant money up front, before you can receive your 'inheritance'. There is no inheritance and you will lose your money.

You won't fall victim to a financial scam if you...

1. Understand and accept that no one gets millions of dollars for doing basically nothing! No one allows a total stranger (you) to accept and handle millions of dollars for them. Beware of anyone who says you can. Don't stick your head in the sand and let your financial desperation cloud your thinking. First ASK a professional financial adviser such as us, or your broker or accountant or attorney BEFORE you proceed. The financial adviser at the offshore bank we use knows every scam out there and will be happy to answer any questions involving prospective money from overseas. We have encountered scams so well done that even attorneys are fooled by them, so don't rely on just your attorney's investigation and advice.

2. Accept that dead relatives do NOT leave millions of money in overseas accounts that they fail to mention in their legitimate will! Especially if they didn't appear rich in their lifetime. This is not a common scam, but if you get approached by someone unknown to you representing themselves as an 'attorney', etc. talking about overseas money left to you, do a lot of  independent research that includes asking direct family members if this relative ever mentioned overseas money to them. Don't be talked into paying any money up front before you can 'receive' any money.

Other Common Financial Scams

Netherland (or other foreign country) Lotto Winner Financial Scam

The following is a sample email you may receive indicating you have won $1 million dollars in the Netherlands lottery. As you will see, if you respond to their email they want your passport, your bank information AND they want you to pay $550 euros to process your claim. NO LEGITIMATE LOTTERY EVER REQUIRES YOU TO PAY A CENT TO CLAIM WINNINGS!
 
DE LOTERIJ PROMOTION.
BS 68-70 ALFONDSTRAAT,
1003BS,AMSTELVEEN THE NETHERLANDS.
TEL/FAX NUMBER :+31-206-006-491.
www.lotto.nl
 
Ref. Number: 198/65732/2004
Batch number: D.711546-DLP/04
 
Sir/ Madam,
 
We are pleased to inform you of the lottery result winners International programmes held on 21th January 2004. Your e-mail address
 was attached to ticket number 375066623 with your serial number 3772-554/DLP.drew you a lucky number 30-75-14-20-64-52 which consequently won in the secound (2rd) category, you are therefore been approved for lump sum pay out of US$ 1,000,000 (One million United states Dollars) CONGRATULATIONS ! ! ! Due to mix up of some numbers and names, you are advised to keep your winning information confidential until your claims has been processed and your money remitted to you in due course via your nominated bank or otherwise. This is part of our security protocol to avoid double claims and unwarranted abuse of this programme by some participants. All participants were selected through an e-mail balloting. This promotional programme takes place every three years. To file for your claim, please contact our fiducially agent: 

Mr.Frank O. Blay
E-mail address: agentblay at netscape.net
Tel#:+31-630-122-829.
Remember, all winning must be claimed not later than 12th April 2004.
Please note, in order to avoid unnecessary delays and complications, remember to quote your reference number and batch number in all correspondence. Furthermore, should there be any change of address do inform our agent as soon as possible. Once again congratulations .
Best regards,
Mrs. Jacky Moore.
Lottery coordinator."

This seemingly innocent email promising a windfall of cash to lucky winners has infiltrated most of the United States. It claims you have won an international lottery. But to claim the cash prize, you first must set up specified bank accounts and fork over some of your own money to help a claims agent open that account so your winnings can be deposited there.

"You send $3,000 to a bank that doesn't exist and people don't check it out," Florida State Attorney's Office spokeswoman Chere Avery said September 29, 2004.

Anyone with an email account is vulnerable to the emails. The bank sounds legitimate and the address looks like that of a bank, Avery said, but neither the bank nor the account area real and the scammers take off with your money.

Some of these scams also request your personal information to verify your identities, but this can be used to steal your identity to open charge cards in your name, or clean out your bank account.

How to Report These Scams

You should contact the Internet Fraud Complaint Center online to file a complaint. This center is a computer-related fraud complaint site for the FBI and National White Collar Crime Center.

http://www.ic3.gov/

 
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