(Issued Feb. 11, 2003)
Nigeria Counterfeit Check Scam
Warning! Phony Cashier's Checks Cheat On-Line Sellers.
If you are selling something over the Internet, you could
be the target of a dangerous
new version of the longstanding Nigeria scams that
have pestered and plagued people since the 1980s. Here's how
the Nigerian counterfeit
check scam works:
selling an item over the Internet - it could be a used car
or motorcycle, or even bred-horses or puppies. You receive
an email offer to buy at your asking price - say, $4000 -
and the buyer says he'll send a bank cashier's
check. The buyer is from Nigeria or "West Africa." At
the last minute the buyer asks to send you a cashier's check
for $3000 MORE than your asking price, and asks you to send
him the difference -- "but only after the cashier's check
clears, of course." (Perhaps he explains that someone in the
U.S. owes him $7,000 and it would be simpler if that person
just sent the cashier's check to you and you sent him the
$3,000. Or, perhaps he says he needs the extra dollars for
You are skeptical - but,
sure enough, the bank cashier's check arrives by Fed Ex, it
looks real, your bank accepts the check, and the bank assures
you the funds are in fact available. So you wire $3,000 to
your buyer in Nigeria and prepare to ship your item.
A week later your bank calls:
"We're very sorry, but the cashier's check was counterfeit"
-- a superb copy, but worthless. Your account is frozen. You
must pay the bank back $7,000. You may even be considered
a fraud suspect yourself. Your "buyer" disappears. (About
the only good news: sellers rarely get to the point of shipping
their car or animals or items abroad.) This scam is cheating
Iowans and people nationwide.
an alarming new variety of Nigeria scam. The key ingredients:
buyers from Africa
offering to pay with bank
and asking to pay several thousand dollars more
than the asking price with a story to explain why.
touch it! This is a new mode of operation for criminal gangs
that have used other schemes to steal hundreds of millions
of dollars since the 1980s. Remember, these are proven "con-artists"
- and now they win people's confidence by presenting extra-ordinarily
good counterfeit cashier's checks. Money may be "available"
to you in 24 hours or sooner, but it can take days or weeks
to determine if a "cashier's
check" is legitimate.
have been a VICTIM of the Nigeria Counterfeit Check Scam,
contact the US Secret Service, the lead agency fighting this
fraud. Call 202-406-5572,
or write to: US Secret Service, Financial Crimes Division,
950 H Street, Washington, DC 20001. Send complaints to the
Secret Service at http://www.secretservice.gov/contact_fcd.shtml..
For more info, go to the Attorney General's web site: www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.org
and click on "New Releases & Publications." For great
here for a full news release on this warning.