ALABAMA SECURITIES COMMISSION

770 WASHINGTON AVE, SUITE 570

MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA 36130-4700

Telephone: (334) 242-2984 or 1-800-222-1253. Fax: (334) 242-0240

Email:  asc@asc.state.al.us.  Website:  www.asc.state.al.us

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Investor Alert:  International-Related E-Mail Solicitations

 

MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA (September 6, 2002) - The Alabama Securities Commission released a consumer warning today concerning International-related e-mail solicitations.

 

Joseph Borg, Director of the Alabama Securities Commission (ASC) is posting excerpts on the Commission website from a joint public advisory that was published by the United States Department of Justice and the Department of the Solicitor General of Canada. 

 

Borg said, "We have received numerous inquiries from individuals, businessmen and companies about e-mail, letter, and fax solicitations involving various offers from countries such as Nigeria, South Africa, Ivory Coast, Togo and others.  The best advice is to not respond to these offers.  We believe the facts and contact information provided from the U.S. Department of Justice will be very beneficial to protect investors from Alabama.  The information in this release may also be accessed at the ASC website: www.asc.state.al.us."

Excerpts from U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of the Solicitor General of Canada:

Summary

      The Department of the Solicitor General of Canada and the United States Department of Justice are jointly issuing a Special Report to advise the public not to respond to e-mail solicitations (or similar letter or fax solicitations) that purport to come from individuals living or working in Africa, or to send or give money or their financial account information to anyone who contacts them in connection with such solicitations. If you have lost funds as a result of these solicitations, or have other questions concerning these solicitations, please contact the authorities listed below in this Advisory.

Facts

      In recent months, law enforcement agencies and residents throughout North America have reported a significant increase in the number and variety of e-mail solicitations that purport to come from individuals living or working in Africa. E-mails – as well as letters and faxes -- of this type are commonly known as “Nigerian scam letters” or “4-1-9 schemes” (referring to the Nigerian criminal code provision for fraud) because they have been associated with criminal organizations that were based in Nigeria or consisted mainly of persons of Nigerian origin.

      More recent e-mails of this type now purport to come from persons not only in Nigeria, but from other nations in central and southern Africa, such as the Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Togo, and Zimbabwe. Although these e-mails often seem to be personally addressed to the recipients, they are typically sent in massive quantities of unsolicited e-mail (“spam”), from Web-based e-mail accounts that people can quickly establish with little or no verification of their true identities and physical locations. By using Web-based e-mail accounts, criminals can check their accounts, and send follow-up e-mails to anyone who responds favorably to the initial solicitations, from anywhere in the world without disclosing their true locations.

      Moreover, these more recent e-mails are using a wider variety of “pitches” – fraudulent stories explaining the need for the recipient’s assistance. Although these e-mails uniformly appear fraudulent, many of them include general references to real historical events to make the “pitch” more plausible.

      Here are some of the more frequently reported solicitations:

In these e-mails, the sender falsely represents himself to be the “Auditor General of Prime Banks” in Africa. He states that he is seeking to transfer tens or hundreds of millions of dollars overseas from a “prime bank.” (In fact, there is no such office in any African nation, as courts and law enforcement and regulatory agencies have recognized that there is no such thing as a “prime bank.” Many fraud schemes offer investments in nonexistent “prime bank” instruments.)

      In addition, the e-mails typically insist on absolute secrecy by the recipient, but promises that the transaction will be completely “risk-free.” In the end, the recipient who responds favorably runs an extremely high risk of loss.

Advice

      The Department of the Solicitor General of Canada and the United States Department of Justice are hereby advising the public not to respond to e-mail solicitations (or similar letter or fax solicitations) of this type, or to send or give money or their financial account information to anyone who contacts them in connection with such solicitations. If you have lost funds as a result of these solicitations, or have other questions concerning these solicitations, please contact the following authorities:

      Canada
            Phonebusters National Call Center
            E-Mail: info@phonebusters.com
                  Telephone [Toll-Free]: 1-888-495-8501
                  Fax [Toll-Free]: 1-888-654-9426
      United States
            United States Secret Service
                  E-Mail: http://www.ustreas.gov/usss/alert419.shtml
                  Telephone: 202-406-5850
            Federal Trade Commission:  Copies of any e-mails that you have received, even if you have not responded, may also be forwarded to the Federal Trade Commission at uce@ftc.gov, for inclusion in the Commission’s “spam” database.

 

Further Information

      For further information on “Nigerian letter schemes” or the more recent varieties of Africa-related e-mail solicitations, please consult the following sources:

      Government Websites
            Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Nigerian Letter Scam,
            http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/scams/nigerian.htm
            United States Secret Service, Nigerian Advance Fee Fraud - “Operation
            4-1-9", http://www.ustreas.gov/usss/financial_crimes.shtml#Nigerian
            Nigerian High Commission in the United Kingdom,
            NigerianFraudWatch.org, http://www.nigerianfraudwatch.org


      Publications
            Jim Buchanan and Alex J. Grant, Investigating and Prosecuting Nigerian
            Fraud
, United States Attorneys Bulletin, November 2001, at 39, reprinted at :
            http://www.usdoj.gov:80/usao/eousa/foia_reading_room/usab4906.pdf

Issued July 22, 2002 

 

End of Excerpts from U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of the Solicitor General of Canada.


The Director of the Alabama Securities Commission (ASC) cautions potential investors to thoroughly check out any investment opportunity.  Contact ASC for inquiries regarding securities broker-dealers, agents, investment advisors, and investment advisor representatives, the registration status of securities, to report suspected fraud, or obtain consumer information: 

 

ALABAMA SECURITIES COMMISSION

770 WASHINGTON AVE, SUITE 570

MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA 36130-4700

 

Telephone: (334) 242-2984 or 1-800-222-1253. Fax: (334) 242-0240

Email:  asc@asc.state.al.us.  Website:  www.asc.state.al.us

 

    ###

 

If you have questions or require more information contact:

Daniel G. Lord

Education and Public Affairs Manager