Posing as cancer victims, Nigerian scam emails flood inboxes

By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

Three emails, just days apart, arrived in the inbox this week, declaring a professed love of Christianity and devote wish to share an extravagant amount of money with the poor.

In all three instances, the women had cancer, two had worked for the embassy in the Ivory Coast, two were willing to have their attorney change their wills, three had millionaire husbands who died – car crash, plane crash, and brief illness, and all want to fund orphanages or church related activities. All were feigning illness, and all were reaching out in a deathbed effort. Their names: Mrs. Amal AneesMrs. Patricia WagnerMrs. Rosemary Parker.

Cancer is serious. Almost everyone has been touched by it. To use it to phish information from unwary good and kind people is unforgivable. To use religion is just as grievous. This scam pulls at the generosity of good people, but entices others with greed.

This is another twist on one of the nation’s longest-running scams. Known as the Nigerian letter scams, these “fund transfer” frauds reach intended victims by fax, letter or e-mail. The sender, who claims to be a government official or member of a royal family, requests help in transferring millions of dollars of excess money out of Nigeria and promises to pay the person for his or her help. The message is always of an “urgent, private” nature.

Those willing to help are asked to give their banking account number (for “safekeeping” the funds) and Social Security number, birth date, or other personal information. Or they are asked to send money to the letter-sender for taxes and various fees. Victims never see their money again, and the con artist obtains the ability to empty their bank account and/or steal their identity.

Email recipients can take steps to protect themselves:

  • If you receive a letter, email, or fax from Nigeria, or any other country, asking you to send personal or banking information, do not reply! Immediately delete or throw away any such correspondence.
  • If you have already responded to such a plea, or if you know someone who is corresponding in this scheme, contact authorities as soon as possible (phone: 202.406.5572 or e-mail 419.fcd@usss.treas.gov).
  • Ignore people representing themselves as foreign government officials asking for your help in placing large sums of money in overseas bank accounts.
  • Be leery when strangers are eager to place unexpected, large amounts of money at your disposal, in exchange for your bank account number or other personal or financial information.
  • Cashier checks and money orders can be counterfeit. When a stranger sends a check or money offer to buy a product or service from you, consult with your bank about the time it will take to verify the check, and wait for the funds to clear.
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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Posing as cancer victims, Nigerian scam emails flood inboxes

  1. Pingback: TOP 10 scams of 2012 | snakeriverBBB

  2. Here’s another:
    Dear Beloved,
    This letter may come to you as a surprise due to the fact that we have not yet met. Firstly, I have to say that I have no intentions of causing you any pain. My name is Mr. Dave Smith, a European merchant. I have been diagnosed with Prostate and Esophageal cancer that was discovered very late due to lack of caring for my health. It has defiled all form of medicine and right now, I have only about a few months to live according to medical experts. I have not particularly lived my life so well, as I never really cared for anyone not even myself but my business.Though I am very rich, I was never generous, I was always hostile to people and only focus on my business as that was the only thing I cared for. But now I regret all this as I now know that there is more to life than just wanting to have or make all the money in the world.
    I use to say to my self that if God should give me a second chance I would live differently from how I have lived. I was meditating on my hospital bed and something told me that God is giving me a second chance by keeping me alive though doctors said I won’t last long. I know my time is near, that’s why I have willed and given most of my properties and assets to my immediate and extended family members as well as some few close friends.So far, I have been able to give alms to a few charity organizations in the U.A.E, London, Sudan, Zimbabwe I gave donations to the Global Fund for Children, GCF and I met two people over the internet that have successfully distributed my funds to charity organizations in their country. Now my health is deteriorating so badly, I really need you to help me distribute the last of my fortune. I want this to be one of the last good deeds I do on earth.
    You might be wondering why I did not pick my close relatives for this task, but I once asked members of my family to close one of my accounts and donate the money there to a charity organization in Bulgaria. They closed the account but refused to donate the money to the organization, but instead shared the money among themselves. From the way they are acting around me, something tells me they want me dead so they can split my last remaining assets and money. Hence, I do not trust them anymore, as they seem not to be content with what I have left for them.
    The last of my money which is a huge cash deposit that I have with a security firm will be put in your care if only you will agree and are capable of seeing this through. I want you to help me collect this deposit and dispatched it to charity organizations of your choice and let them know that it is I, Mr. Dave Smith that is making this generous donation. I am writing this from my laptop computer in my hospital bed where I wait for my time to come. I pray for you to support and assist me with a good heart. I hope we can build a relationship based on trust because I want to do this by all means possible before I die.But the choice is yours Please you can contact me through this email address;dsmith5009@aol.co.uk
    Be blessed my beloved,
    Mr. Dave Smith

  3. One with a different sort of twist:

    Attn

    Assalam Alleykum

    I am Mrs. Safia Farsak Gadaffi, widow to the Former Military Head of
    State, Late Muammar Gadaffi exiled in Algeria , Can you help invest Eighty
    Million USD($80,000,000.00) in your country ? May Allah show you mercy
    as you do so?
    While I expect your reply
    Your faithfully,
    Hajjia Safia Farkash Gadaffi
    Personal email address:farsaf001@gmail.com

  4. You can now add 50-year-old Mrs. Nina Phalen, formerly of Australia, who is suffering from Cancer, a widow, to the list. She is seeking someone to take all of her late-husband’s money and use it for good in developing a church in Africa, America Asia, or Europe.

  5. Dora from Johannesburg, South Africa, wants you to adopt her. Her parents are deceased, she’s 18, and on the run with 5.5 million pounds sterling.

    Here’s a part of her 419 scam letter:

    Presently, I am in a church for shelter as I have no one to run to. Before my father gave up the ghost, he intimated me over a fixed deposit of Ј5.5 Million British Pounds Sterling fixed with his bank in London. Please, I need your assistance to get this money transferred to any of your provided bank account in your country for my education and up-bringing as the money is too much for me to handle or manage for now as I am only 18.

    I want you to be my guardian so that you can personally arrange for my trip to your country once the transfer is made to your provided bank account.

    I want you to accept me like your own child and take good care of me until I grow up to be a woman. I am willing to offer you 20% of the fund for your role/assistance while the remaining 80% you will invest in your country and manage on my behalf until I am old enough to manager the investment. I would have love to speak with you on phone but I have no access to telephone for now and my only means of communication is through the internet.

    Don’t fall for this scam artist’s petition.
    ROBB

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