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Demopolis Police crack down on Nigerian scams

DEMOPOLIS &8212; Have you received an e-mail requesting bank account information to transfer monies, or a fax requesting help from far off country? If so, you might have been a prospect for &8220;Nigerian scam.&8221;

According to Sergeant Tim Soronen of the Demopolis Police Department, there have been several reports of local individuals falling victim to so-called &8220;Nigerian scams.&8221;

These Internet scams commonly solicit individuals over the Internet, through fax machines or by mail all over the world. They are known as Nigerian scams because that is where they are thought to have originated, but there have been reports that they can come from England, Canada, Asia, Europe and in the United States.

Soronen said that the three most common scams that they see are lottery scams, work at home scams and reshipping scams.

In a lottery scam, Soronen said, victims are contacted by a foreign lottery commission, usually from Canada, stating that they have won an international lottery in the amount of several million dollars. After a person has responded, the scam artists will mail the victim a cashier&8217;s check intended to cover the fees associated with recovering the money.

The scam artist will then ask the victim to cash the check and wire the money to an individual who is supposed to pay all of the international taxes and send the victim the balance. Once the victim cashes the check, it takes several days to find out that it is a counterfeit check. By this time, the victim has wired the money to the suspects and they are left owing the money back to the bank.

Soronen said most of the work at home scams are conducted on the Internet and individuals are

contacted about a new home business where all they have to do is process payments for a company and they will receive a percentage of the profit.

Once the victim becomes involved, they will receive money orders from people that resemble payments for services. Then the checks are cashed and the money is wired to the scam artists. In these incidents as well, it takes several days for the victim to discover that the checks were counterfeit.

When asked how a person can be sure if a home-based business is legitimate, Soronen said a person can look into their history by checking with a Better Business Bureau or consumer agency.

The third most common scam, Soronen said, is known as a reshipping scam. This is where an individual is contacted by someone claiming to have a small business out of the country.

The suspect states that they need someone they can trust to help them with their shipping operations by receiving packages and reshipping them to their customers. After several weeks, the victims may be approached by the police because the merchandise they have been receiving is bought using stolen credit cards.

Soronen said that anyone is at risk for being solicited by a scam artist. Just as credit card companies and other businesses can purchase lists of consumer addresses, scam artist can gain access to them as well.

In the event of a person falling victim to a Nigerian scam, Soronen said a person&8217;s best course of action is to contact police.

For more information about these scams visit www.nigerianscams.org, www.home.rica.net/alphae/419coal/ or www.fraudaid.com/ScamSpeak/Nigerian/nigerian_scam_letters.htm