Sunday, May 15, 2011

Internet scam: Nigeria in the spotlight

A classified ad in a recent edition of the Aspen Daily News for a free Honda motorbike caught the eyes of a few people before catching the attention of police.

The ad, which last ran in Wednesday’s paper, said, “Honda 1988 HL1500 Motorbike for free. If interested contact”

One person who responded to the ad was told that the motorbike was being shipped from California to Ohio after a long-winded email about the death of a grandson and that $600 should be sent via Western Union, said Bruce Benjamin, an investigator with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.
The money was supposedly to pay for shipping fees and arrangements in Colorado to drop off the vehicle.

A valley resident contacted the newspaper and also the police. The ad was pulled immediately.

At least three people responded, though no one sent money, Benjamin said.

One person played along and told authorities that he was instructed to send money using Western Union to an address that turned out to be in Nigeria.

An accountant was supposed to pick up the money but had been injured in a car accident; the story went. But another accountant who happened to be traveling in Africa could pick it up in Nigeria.

“This is a typical Nigerian scam,” Benjamin said, urging people to follow the “if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is” advice. “Never Western Union money to an unknown entity.”

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