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Consumer Alert:

04/09/2004

*BEWARE OF TRANSFER FUND SCAMS*

 

 

CONTACT:     
Justin Glover
(850) 413-2842

TALLAHASSEE–Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher today warned consumers to beware of unsolicited e-mails promising an opportunity to get rich quick, but which are nothing more than an attempt to drain unsuspecting consumers' bank accounts.

  Recipients of these e-mails are told that the sender is either a high-ranking government official or the close relative of a high-ranking government official from a developing country. As a result of some financial miscalculation, the sender has millions of dollars languishing in a bank account that cannot be accessed without the recipient's assistance.  In return for this assistance, the recipient is promised a portion of the funds, usually 20 percent. All the recipient has to do is demonstrate their good faith by either depositing a sum of money in a bank account (which the sender can access) or by faxing company letterhead and information on the recipient's bank account. The sender then drains the bank account.

       While the majority of e-mails claim to originate from Nigeria, the source of the e-mails could just as easily come from anywhere else in the world. The Central Bank of Nigeria has issued a press statement subtitled "Don't be fooled! Many have lost money," which warns individuals not to be fooled by scam artists claiming to be associated with the Nigerian government. Because the operators of these scams usually reside outside of the country in which they are soliciting, prosecuting such cases is difficult, if not impossible.

        "Any unsolicited e-mail which offers you an opportunity to get rich quick should be viewed with suspicion," said Gallagher.  "People promoting fail-safe stock tips or easy access to locked-in funds often have their own get-rich-quick scheme - they get rich by taking your money."

         Gallagher said consumers should "verify before they buy," a message he has promoted to urge consumers to determine that the company or individual they are dealing with is legitimate. 

 Additional information can be found at the U.S. Secret Service's website at http://www.secretservice.gov/alert419.shtml.  Victims should contact the Secret Service's Financial Crimes Division at 202-406-5850.  Consumers may also call the department's toll free helpline at 1-800-342-2762.