updated: Sep 12, 2012, 3:09 PM
Source: Ventura Police Department
Incident: Scam Alert - Ghana President Inheritance Scam Letter
Location: City of Ventura
Date of Release: September 12, 2012
Over the last two days the Ventura Police Department (VPD) has received a number of calls from alert
citizens regarding a letter sent via fax transmission to their homes/businesses. The fax is a scam and
we want to advise anyone who receives a fax/letter of this nature to disregard it and not send any
personal information to the individual listed in the letter.
The letter is attached with the press release and is also shown below. As you can see, the letter
instructs the recipient to provide a wealth of personal information such as contact information, name,
date of birth, employment details, etc., so that the individual (who claims to be the son of the recently
deceased Ghanaian President) can invest his money in the United States and ultimately transfer the sum
of $95 million to the individual's bank account.
The vast majority of individuals who receive such a fax/letter realize the correspondence is a scam and
do the right thing by not responding and simply discarding the letter. Scams of this nature, and
similarly related scams (e.g., Lotto, Sweepstakes, Mystery Shopper Opportunities, "Grandparent" Scam,
etc.) ultimately work because they prey upon people's ambitions, vulnerabilities, and emotions.
Unfortunately some individuals do provide the information requested by the scammer and in turn lose
their money and/or become victims of identity theft in one form or another.
Although there is some variation to each particular scam, the premise of each is fairly consistent - that
is, in one way or another you are asked to provide personal data, send money, or cash a fraudulent
check. Whatever the set-up, the results are always the same for the victim - they end up having their
identity compromised, and/or losing hundreds or thousands of dollars in these scams.
Below are some helpful tips to recognize a possible scam:
• Ask yourself these questions:
o Does it look to good to be true? Then it probably is.
o Does the text reflect a poor command of the English language? Here's an example from another
letter, "We are therefore with great pleasure to notify you that your e-mail address once again,
happened to come out top number (1)."
o Are they asking for money or personal information?
o Is there a sense of urgency to the letter, or are they insisting you must "act now" or lose a good
o Did you initiate contact with this company or individual? For example, are you being notified that
you won a contest you never entered? Unsolicited offers are often questionable.
o Are there errors or inconsistencies in the information provided? For example, does the letter list a
company address in one country/state while the check issued is from a company in a different
Most of these questions sound obvious and a good dose of common sense is usually good enough to
keep you from being a victim. However, the crooks that perpetrate these kinds of scams only do so
because they are successful at it and it pays for them.
The faxes, letters, e-mails, and phone calls often sound legitimate and can be very convincing. If in
doubt, shred the mail, hang up the phone, delete the e-mail, or refuse to open the door to your home
to someone you don't know and trust.
You can report scams online to the National Consumers League's Fraud Center at www.fraud.org. They
maintain a national repository of information and will insure your information gets to the proper
investigating authority. If you are the victim of a crime please report it immediately to the Ventura
Police Department at 1425 Dowell Dr., Ventura, CA, or call 805-339-4400.
Other helpful websites include:
• www.fraud.org (National Consumers League's Fraud Center)
• www.ic3.gov/default.aspx (Internet Crime Complaint Center)
• www.idtheftcenter.org/ (Non profit ID Theft Center)
• www.scambusters.org (Helpful Scam Buster Website)
• www.ftc.gov (Federal Trade Commission)
• www.fraudsandscams.com (Use the Drop Down Link to Check out Many Common Scams and
• http://da.countyofventura.org/special_prosecutions/victim_services/va_br... (Ventura County DA's
Office Crime Prevention Handbook for Seniors)
FRAUDULENT SCAM LETTER SENT VIA FAX IS SHOWN BELOW:
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