Scam Alert - New Twist on the Old Nigerian Letter Scam
Image: NCCC

It's been around for years. You may have even heard of it. However, a new twist on the old Nigerian letter scam is taking some consumers for a very expensive ride. But it can be prevented.

Here's what happens: Scammers send out unsolicited messages to individuals and small businesses in the hopes of tricking consumers. Unfortunately, the advancement of Internet technologies has made it easier for these crooks to reach you. The latest trick involves you wiring money abroad.

Typically, a consumer who is selling an item online receives a cashier's check from the seller located overseas. It is made out for more than the agreed-upon price, and the buyer can make a very reasonable sounding excuse for the discrepancy. He'll ask you to wire the difference to him overseas. The bank will usually accept the check. But within a matter of days it is discovered to be a fake, leaving the seller out thousands of dollars.

Sellers online should be skeptical of buyers from Nigeria or a neighboring country. The phony checks are drawn on U.S. banks to look more authentic. Be cautious of such checks and requests to wire money overseas.

There are similar scams involving letters from purported officials in Nigeria or a neighboring country. They ask you to send your financial information so that money can be deposited into your account. Our word of advice is as follows: if it involves you spending ANY amount of money or ANY financial information, something is WRONG.

If you receive any such letters or have suspicions about an online transaction, contact the North Carolina Attorney General's Office of Consumer Protection at 919-716-6000 and select option 6 to learn how to report the incident to the Secret Service. If you receive a letter via email, forward it to the United States Secret Service. Your quick actions can help apprehend these individuals.