Don't be a victim of a 'foreign fraud'

Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
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Americans lose more than $100 million per year to Foreign Advance Fee Fraud, according to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The Financial Crimes Unit of the Secret Service receives 100 telephone calls and 300-500 pieces of correspondence per day from victims and potential victims of the fraudulent solicitations, which can arrive by letter, fax or e-mail. The senders originally claimed to be from Nigeria, but now often claim to be from European and other nations as well. They often request the use of your bank account to transfer money into the United States. With the promise of a large payment, they ask you to act as the "next of kin" for a supposedly deceased person's inheritance. Rather than depositing money in your account, however, the scam operators drain the bank account. The FBI notes that the median dollar loss from Foreign Advance Fee Fraud is over $5,000 per victim. No one has ever received the promised funds, and losses from participating in illegal foreign business deals are nearly impossible to recover. Once your money is gone, it's gone for good. If you receive such a solicitation, do not disclose your personal information. Either throw away the solicitation or forward it to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. If you have been the victim of such a scam, send documentation to the U.S. Secret Service. Their Web site is www.secretservice.gov. You may also contact the Minnesota Attorney General's Office at (651) 296-3353 or (800) 657-3787 for more information and help.