Is There Now a US Army Iraq Nigerian Scam?

New Nigerian scam, Amazon phishing scams, unclaimed money and more: Internet ScamBusters #142

Today we’re doing another subscriber Q&A issue. Today’s topics are:

– Is there now a US Army Iraq Nigerian scam?

– Can you eliminate me from the Friday Notice email?

– Is this condo rental offer for real?

– Are there Amazon phishing scams?

– Should I pay this company to help me collect money that was supposedly my mother’s that I didn’t know about (or is it a scam)?

Before we get started, we wanted to remind you about disaster scams in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Whenever there is a major natural or other disaster, scammers begin sending out charity relief scams within just a couple of hours.

Click here to find out more about the many different types of Hurricane Katrina scams that are already making the rounds, how to protect yourself, and how you can best help Hurricane Katrina victims…

And also check out these tips for protecting yourself from charity scams.

Let’s begin…

Internet ScamBusters Q&A

Question: Is this a scam? It sounds similar to the Nigerian scam.

— Begin Scam Email —

I am [Name deleted], a sergeant in the American army, presently in Iraq among peace keeping force (sic).

During the raid of the Saddam Hussein hide out, which was also where he kept funds and valuables, I successfully smuggled out a box containing $15.5 million, which I have moved out of Iraq through a diplomatic channel.

The funds is (sic) presently in the custody of a securities and finance company in Europe. I want to move finally to safe bank account through a reliable person (sic).

If you are willing to assist me in the deal, urgently contact me through this address for further details.


— End Scam Email —

Answer: We’ve gotten lots of questions on this one. It’s just a new variant of the Nigerian scam.

Remember, it doesn’t matter what country they are supposedly from — or who or why someone wants to give you millions of dollars — it’s a scam. The fact that it is supposedly from someone in the US Army makes it no less of a scam.


Question: I receive the Wednesday email newsletter without problem. Can you eliminate me from the Friday Notice email? Thank you.

Answer: We’ve answered this before, but since we have tens of thousands of new subscribers since then, we decided to answer it again.

We send the main complete issue out on Wednesdays, and a follow-up on Fridays to let you know when each issue is posted online. Each is labeled clearly.

The reason we’re doing this is because so many subscribers who are not getting ScamBusters (because of the filters) requested we do this. Since so much of the information we discuss is scam-related, our newsletters are very frequently captured by the filters.

Unfortunately, we have no good way of only sending these notices to only some subscribers.

For more advanced subscribers: If you regularly get the main issue and you want to file or delete the Friday notices in your email program, you can use the phrase ‘ScamBusters Now Online’ in the Subject Field of the short notice to filter it and set for auto-delete (but please don’t flag it as spam).


Question: I’m wondering if this is a scam:

I have a condo by the beach that I rent out. I advertise it on the Internet. Someone in Holland emailed me saying she was interested in renting the condo for a month, and asked for a price quote, which I sent her.

She then said she wanted to take the condo, but that her secretary had made the check out for the wrong amount – about $2500 too much. She asked if I could send $1400 to her colleague in Nigeria and keep the rest for the rental? It seems fishy to me.

Answer: You are right, it is fishy. This is yet another variant of the overpayment scam, this time for a rental. Remember, in Issue #139 on overpayment scams, we wrote:

“It doesn’t matter *why* you are supposed to send them back money: scammers give hundreds of different excuses that seem plausible at first blush.”

For more on the overpayment scam, visit now.


Question: I received an e-mail from “Amazon” claiming my bank had contacted them regarding some attempted charges on my credit card. It had a link for me to confirm my identity, and asked me to wait 72 hours after I did that to e-mail them, because e-mailing too soon would result in delays.

I e-mailed Amazon with a cut and paste version of the original. They said it is a spoof. I wanted to give you a heads up on this one. Thanks for helping to protect us all.

Answer: Yes, there are Amazon phishing scams. In fact by now, there seem to be phishing scams from most well-known companies.


Question: My mother died about 6 months ago, and we are going through the probate process. We’re finally ready to distribute the assets according to her will.

Last week, I received a call from a company who said they had money that was unclaimed for my deceased mother from Austin. The amount is $87,000. They said that they wanted me to sign agreement to give them 1/3 of the amount as their commission for finding the money.

Their fee would be deducted from the distribution, and there are no up-front costs.

I’m really surprised because my mother lived in Colorado her entire life and kept excellent records. In addition, I’ve been doing her finances for years and I knew nothing about this money.

Is this a scam? I really need a quick answer as the time for probate is at an end.

Answer: I suggest you look on this page of our site about unclaimed money.

If there is money, you can probably find it as easily as they can (it’s public record) and you won’t pay 1/3 as a fee.

Given what you said, it is very likely the money belonged to someone with the same name as your mother in another state.

I wouldn’t worry about the deadline though. Even if you pursue it today, it will take months to find out how much money there really is and to receive it. Any money can be distributed when it is received.


Time to wrap up — wishing you a wonderful week…