Attorney General Warns Of Email And Internet Scams Involving Wire Transfers or Bank Deposits

~ Scams are evolving to look more “official,” often appearing to be
government documents ~

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Attorney General Bill McCollum today issued a consumer advisory warning Floridians about evolving email and internet scams, particularly those which solicit assistance in moving large sums of money through wire transfers or bank deposits. The Attorney General cautioned that as technology develops, con artists are becoming more adept at using the internet to prey on their victims, hiding behind the internet’s anonymity while offering business opportunities that cannot be passed up or stories begging for a recipient’s compassion.

“The internet is a wonderful tool, but unfortunately unscrupulous individuals use it every day to scam victims out of hundreds or even thousands of dollars through every type of scam imaginable,” said Attorney General McCollum. “Floridians should be very cautious of entering into any financial transaction with a stranger over the internet and should report suspicious internet activity to the authorities.”

Earlier this week, a member of the Attorney General’s staff received an email from someone purporting to be a high-ranking government official in South Africa. The individual claimed to have a large sum of money but needed to transfer it to a “silent partner” to protect it from any economic instability. The email and attached letter were formatted to appear to be official documents from the government of South Africa. The individual promised a portion of the funds to any willing participant and claimed the entire process was perfectly legitimate, even asking for personal phone numbers to call and reassure interested participants, but when questioned further by staff with the Attorney General’s Office, the individual refused to provide additional information about the “opportunity.”

The wire transfer and deposit scams are a new variation on the classic overpayment scam, where a con artist “accidentally” sends a check or a money order to a consumer in an amount greater than the purchase price, but asks the overpayment be wired back. By the time the consumer wires back the difference, the original check has been discovered to be fraudulent and the consumer has lost the amount wired back.

Attorney General McCollum offered the following tips to avoid falling prey to this scam:

– Know who you are dealing with. Independently confirm the individual’s
name, address and telephone number.
– Never wire money to a stranger or a third party at a stranger’s
request. If someone insists that you wire funds, end the communication and transaction immediately – legitimate individuals won’t pressure you to send money.
– If selling an item, accept only cash if possible. If you do accept a
check for payment, do not turn over the item being sold until you verify that the check has cleared the issuing bank.
– Never accept payment for more than the purchase price of an item, no
matter how tempting.
– Resist any pressure to “act now.”

Consumers who believe they have been victimized by these or other types of scams can contact the Attorney General’s fraud hotline at
1-866-966-7226 or can file complaints online at http://myfloridalegal.com.

A copy of the original email related to the “business opportunity” is available online at:
http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/MRAY-7DCKGB/$file/DFandEA.pdf.

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