KUSA - The FBI and other security experts say an old scam has been dusted off, updated with new and better English, and is once again sweeping the Colorado Front Range.
It arrives as a letter that purports to be from a private wealth management company at the bank of China. The author is a banker who works for the firm, and he is contacting you regarding a deceased client with a last name similar to yours. That client left more than $9 million in the bank at his death, an amount the banker has invested at attractive margins. The sum now stands at $13 million.
Internet security expert John Sileo says that's enough to get anyone's attention.
"Yes and it's got some details" he said. "They've added details to make it sound very legitimate."
Details such as a dead client's last name very close in spelling to yours. Also, it stresses dealings with an experienced "specialist bank in Hong Kong" which is holding the money, and that the sum has gone unclaimed because "the relative was involved in a fatal accident in mainland China, and died intestate," or without a will. And guess what? You have been made the beneficiary.
Sileo says to someone in financial difficulty, the letter can be very enticing.
"They write a letter that looks official, they make up a name that could be a relationship. You're suddenly thinking, well, they have my name and address and of course it's legitimate," he said.
As many as 10,000 letters may be circulating, and at any moment, 6 percent of that number are buying into the fraud.
The letter makes it sound like claiming the money is an easy thing. He says the bank will make payments to you after "all the necessary verification and application is done," which Sileo says, always means they want all of your personal information.
"Exactly. That's where they're harvesting the data No. 1. That's where they're getting you to send money. They will then give you instructions. You learn what you have to do. I need to ship this package or there's a licensing fee that you have to pay, say $50," Sileo said.
The banker closes the letter reminding you that "riches never come easy or on a platter of gold," and that you are not to "betray their confidence." In other words, they don't want you to talk to anyone, because someone may try to stop you from attempting to complete the transaction. But of course in the end, you're nothing but another victim.
"Nobody is giving you $9 million. Period. If they do, you're going to have lawyers that are in touch with you in person. You're going to know it," Sileo said.
He says don't call them with the number they provide in the letter, don't email them with the posted email address, or engage them in any way. Sileo says you should simply shred the letter forget about it.
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