Over the last week, the department has received several reports of the scam. Recipients are advised to disregard the letter.
The fax is purportedly sent from the son of a deceased president of the African nation of Ghana. In it, the sender requests help from the recipient so he can transfer and invest $95 million in the U.S. through the recipient's bank account.
The public is advised that responding to these scams can result in compromised identities and lost money.
Ventura Police offer the following tips to recognize a possible scam:
- Does it look to good to be true? Then it probably is.
- Does the text reflect a poor command of the English language? Here's an example from another letter, "We are therefore with great pleasure to notify you that your e-mail address once again, happened to come out top number (1)."
- Are they asking for money or personal information?
- Is there a sense of urgency to the letter, or are they insisting you must "act now" or lose a good opportunity?
- Did you initiate contact with this company or individual? For example, are you being notified that you won a contest you never entered? Unsolicited offers are often questionable.
- Are there errors or inconsistencies in the information provided? For example, does the letter list a company address in one country/state while the check issued is from a company in a different country/state?
The faxes, letters, emails, and phone calls often sound legitimate and can be very convincing. If in doubt, shred the mail, hang up the phone, delete the e-mail, or refuse to open the door to your home to someone you don't know and trust.
You can report scams online to the National Consumers League's Fraud Center at www.fraud.org. They maintain a national repository of information and will insure your information gets to the proper investigating authority. If you are the victim of a crime please report it immediately to the Ventura Police Department at 1425 Dowell Dr., Ventura, CA, or call (805) 339-4400.