"Nigerian scam" makes way to Carson Valley | RecordCourier.com

"Nigerian scam" makes way to Carson Valley

by Christy Chalmers, staff writer

An African “refugee’s” top-secret pitch for help recovering $15 million may be making the rounds in Northern Nevada.

In a one-page letter addressed to “the president,” the purported sender, a man named Victor Mpoyo, explains a situation in which his family’s fortune is trapped in South Africa because his father died fighting rebels and the rest of the family had to flee.

The letter, which contains numerous typos and grammatical errors, asks the recipient to help set up an account so Mpoyo and his family can reclaim their $15 million. The recipient will get 25 percent but must not mention it because “absolute trust and confidence” are needed.

The message came over The Record-Courier’s fax Friday, so apparently the sender wants everyone to know. So does the Nevada Attorney General’s office, which has been warning about what it calls “The Nigerian Scam” for several months.

“It’s an old scam that periodically pops up once in a while,” said Steve George, public information officer for the Attorney General’s office. “They seem to go into hiding for a while and then come out.”

The attorney general’s office last warned about the Nigerian scam in March after a Las Vegas man lost $15,000. In that scam, people around the word were sent letters and faxes stating the group was secretly contacting them about a large amount of money and they could claim 30 percent if they sent bank and residential information. The respondents’ bank accounts were wiped out.

Though Mpoyo’s offer/plea is slightly different than the Nigerian scam – Mpoyo says he’ll share $15 million, while the other claimed a $96 million jackpot – the attorney general’s office says Nevadans need to be wary of any offer that sounds too good to be true.

Some warning signs include:

n Contact from strangers, often from other states or countries, who offer to share a large amount of money.

n Promises that little or no effort is required to collect the money.

n A requirement that recipients send money before they can collect their share.

n Assertions that secrecy is important.

Complaints about the Nigerian scam can be sent to the U.S. Secret Service Office, 600 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89101. Complaints about fraud can be reported to the attorney general’s Carson City office by calling 687-6300.