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Stacey Butler reportingAn age old scam is gaining new momentum, using technology and even terrorism.
And, Utahns are falling prey.
You may recall reports on the Nigerian scam. It's the one where a letter or email is sent requesting money for Nigerian causes. Well now there's a new twist. It's more tricky, more techy. And Utahns are falling for it.
MIchael Fithen, U.S. Secret Service, Salt Lake City: " WE RECEIVE COUNTLESS CALLS WEEKLY FROM PEOPLE WHO HAVE SENT FROM 5 TO 250 THOUSAND DOLLARS OVER TO THE WEST AFRICAN CONTINENT."
Money that the Secret Service suspects is funding terrorism.
"Michael Fithen:WE KNOW THAT TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS HAVE USED PUPPET COUNTRIES TO FUNNEL FUNDS BACK TO THEIR CAUSE."
Some victims receive emails like these.
Where the writer claims to be associated with Saddam Hussein. No one knows for certain exactly where the money ends up. But authorities say every day more and more Utahns are sending money to unknown sources in Nigeria.
Karen Nelson, Vice Pres. Wells Fargo Bank: "WE'RE SEEING DOZENS IN ANY GIVEN MONTH INSTEAD OF ONE OR TWO IN A SIX MONTH PERIOD."
Here's how the scam works.
A seller places an ad to sell an item on internet sites like EBAY or even KSL Classfieds. Then a person from Nigeria responds to the ad and sends a check for well above the listed price. He then asks the seller to write a check for the extra money and to wire it out immediately.
Karen Nelson, Vice Pres. Wells Fargo Bank: "THEY DEPOSIT THE CHECK AND IT TURNS OUT TO BE FRAUDULENT. BY THEN THEY'VE USED A PORTION OF THE MONEY, THEY'VE BEEN READY TO SHIP THE ITEM THEY WERE SELLING AND THEY'VE WIRED A LARGE PORTION OF THE MONEY BACK TO NIGERIA."
Some banks take eleven days to clear a check. The vice president of Wells Fargo says most people don't want to wait.
Karen Nelson Vice Pres. Wells Fargo Bank CUSTOMER IS WANTING TO MAKE THEIR PROFIT ON THE SELLING OF THE ITEM, SO THEY'RE PUSHING US TO MAKE SURE THE FUNDS ARE CLEARED, THEY'LL WANT TO WIRE THE MONEY OUT IMMEDIATELY."
When selling items on the internet Watch for the following red flags.
- An extremely high bid on an item for sale on websites
- Above asking price
- A check for an amount above the asking price.
- Words misspelled
- Words on emails and checks misspelled.