An Internet scam has taken a new and ominous twist with Nigerian scammers posing as agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and making threats of arrest to e-mail recipients.
The page-and-a-half long letter tells the recipient that the sender will notify the mayor of the city in which the recipient lives and order him or her to shut down the recipient's bank account. It goes on to say that the FBI has arrest warrants pending and that the recipient's properties will be confiscated.
The letter also threatens to have the recipient added to a criminal database for Internet fraud, citing the shame it would cause the recipient's family when the announcement was made by local media.
It goes on to say that "they" will trace and arrest the recipient if the sum of $98 is not sent via Western Union immediately. If the funds are not sent, the sender warns "you will be appearing in court for act[s] of terrorism, money laundering and drug-trafficking charges.
"Be warned not to try anything funny because you are [being] watched."
The document is attributed to Robert Mueller II, Anti-Terrorist and Monetary Crimes Division, FBI Headquarters in Washington D.C.
"This is not a fluke," said Lt. Greg Brandsma of the Monett Police Department. "For years there have been efforts by those we have identified as entities from Nigeria to defraud people of their money.
"It is easy to tell, from their construction of the English language, the grammatical errors and the typos, that it is a fraudulent document," Brandsma continued. "They are trying to get funds out of this country under whatever pretense will work."
Brandsma said similar Internet solicitations have been occurring since the late 1970s and early 1980s.
"As we see a greater ability through technology to communicate to other countries, we see more efforts of this kind," Brandsma said. "The FBI and Post Office are all aware to be on the look out for these kinds of fraudulent activities."
Brandsma also said the FBI has to work within jurisdictional restrictions and the ability to prosecute offenders.
Information about such activities may be forwarded to the FBI's tips website at www.fbi.gov/contact-us. Click on the link for online scams or e-mail hoaxes.