Date: July 8, 2003 "For Immediate Release"
To: News Media
From: Sheriff Lawrence W. Crow, Jr.
Media Contact:

Carrie Rodgers, (863) 534-6217 OR (863) 819-1856, Pager

Sheriff Warns Citizens about Nigerian Internet Scam

Sheriff Crow is alerting Polk County citizens to be wary of a well-known scam that affects innocent people selling goods over the internet.  The victim is someone who has placed an item for sale over the internet, and is then contacted via a series of emails by a potential buyer.  The most common items for sale are vehicles, however there has been a case in Polk County involving the sale of birds.

After several emails between buyer and victim, negotiating a price for and arranging for payment of the item, the victim receives a cashier's or other type of check for more than the agreed-upon amount of the item up for sale.  The buyer sends an email instructing the victim to cash the check and wire transfer the remainder of the money to a subject in Nigeria.  If the victim plays along, eventually he/she is contacted by their bank informing them that the check they cashed was forged or counterfeit, and the victim sustains a loss of up to thousands of dollars.

Several other commonalities discovered with this scam are:  Checks are usually shipped to victims via Federal Express; Checks are sent from out-of-state, or from Lagos, Nigeria; The bank issuing the check is from out-of-state; Instructions are to cash the checks IMMEDIATELY and wire the money to Nigeria; The buyer states not to worry about shipping the item for sale - they assure the victim they will make arrangements for the item to be picked up or shipped to them.

The United States Secret Service has a task force which investigates the Nigerian internet scam.  If you become a victim of this scam, there are specific instructions from the Secret Service on what to do.  Visit their website at

If you have any further questions about this crime locally, contact PCSO Detective Steve Menge at 863-499-2400.

Distribution: Undersheriff, Division Commanders, Communications, News Media

A text only version of this release is also available.

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