Beware of ‘Nigerian scam’ |

Beware of ‘Nigerian scam’

Jack Cramer was skeptical, to say the least, when he opened a letter from Spain the other day and read that an African claiming to be the son of a Sierra Leone diamond mine owner was offering $5 million in return for a favor.

“The minute I read it, I knew it was a scam,” said Cramer, owner of the Gold Bowl Bowling in Grass Valley. “The Nigerians are famous for this.”

Cramer and at least one other Grass Valley business owner were recipients of what’s commonly referred to as “Nigerian Letter Scams.”

Originating in Nigeria more than 10 years ago, the scam letters now originate from other countries and are also sent over the Internet. Basically, the letter writer claims to be someone in trouble, but with huge funds that they need help investing in the United States.

If you agree to help, the letter writer promises to give you a large percentage of the fortune.

In Cramer’s case, the letter writer offered 25 percent of $20 million of his dead father’s ( who was shot by rebels) diamond mine fortune. All Cramer has to do is, “Help me to bank the money in (a) safe account.”

“Once they get the hook set and get you into believing … then they begin hitting you up with requests for (your bank) account information and payments to facilitate the transfer,” explained Grass Valley Police Capt. Greg Hart.

Cramer’s letter – which he showed to Hart Thursday morning – has an e-mail address and phone number.

“Don’t respond. Don’t communicate with them in any fashion,” Hart said. “Notify your local law enforcement when these come in.”

Another recipient of an identical scam letter was Hardy Saffold, owner of the Nevada Club bar.

“I figured it was a scam they’re trying to do in Grass Valley because a lot of retired people live up here,” Saffold said.

Both Cramer and Saffold contacted The Union because they hope to raise people’s awareness of the scam.

Many people do fall for Nigerian scam letters. Hundreds of millions of dollars are lost annually worldwide, according a U.S. State Department publication about the problem.

On the Net

Read a 33-page U.S. State Department report about so-called “Nigerian Letter Scams”

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