"We've been trying to warn consumers to steer clear of this latest version of the Nigerian letter scam," Cooper said. "Fortunately, one Raleigh man who dealt with these con artists caught on to their tricks and didn't lose any money.
"We're hoping that other consumers will heed the warning rather than becoming a victim."
The scam targets consumers who are selling items via the Internet. Scammers pay for merchandise with U.S. bank cashier's checks, which consumers find out are counterfeits only after they have wired thousands of dollars to Africa.
Raleigh consumer James Hoyle received an e-mail from Nigeria offering to purchase two band saws from his company, Hoyle and Associates, for $18, 590. The scammers sent a certified check for the total but then asked Hoyle to wire back several thousand dollars because they had decided to purchase one saw instead of two.
When Hoyle attempted to cash the check, the bank discovered it was a fraud. Hoyle reported the scam to the Attorney General's Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Secret Service.
Consumers who may have been a victim of any Nigerian letter scam are asked to call the Attorney General's Consumer Protection office at
and select option 6 to learn how to report it to the Secret Service.
"Consumers with merchandise for sale online should be very skeptical of any offer that comes from Nigeria or a neighboring country," Cooper said, "especially if it involves a cashier's check and a request to wire money."
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