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Bankrate's scam roundup

Bankrate keeps an eye out for the ways con artists are trying to pick your pockets. The latest: a Nigerian scam that claims to have access to the money of Holocaust victims.

You may have been courted before by the Nigerian scam, also known as the 419 scam (named after the section of the law pertaining to it). It comes in e-mail or letter form and tells you of a huge amount of money hidden overseas that the writer of the letter wants to put in your bank account. In return, he promises you a big cut of the cash.

What you may not know is that this scam comes in many different forms. Con artists are continually updating the scam in an attempt to change it enough so that people won't recognize it. While the original version of this bogus letter claims to have access to a bank account in Nigeria, Bankrate recently received a version of the scam that claims to be from Switzerland. Rather than money that belonged to warlords, this person claims to have access to funds that belonged to victims of the Holocaust who are now deceased and left no wills.

Long story short: Any checks you receive from this person will be fake. The con will ask you to keep part of the money and send him the difference. Shortly after you send him the difference by mail or wire, his check will bounce, and you will owe the total amount to your bank. Warning: Sometimes people are told by their banks that the check has cleared, so they go ahead and wire the difference to the scammer. But don't be too sure: The scammers sometimes forge a cashier's check, which fools the bank into prematurely reporting the check as "cleared." Once the forgery is discovered, the bank will try to hold you liable.

You should not answer these e-mails or click on the links they contain. The Federal Trade Commission has warned that by clicking on links, you may unknowingly download spyware onto your computer.

Here's how one version of the Holocaust scam e-mail, entitled "THE GAIN OF WORLD WAR II," reads:

My name is Mr. Ronald Lauder, a member of Independent Committee of Eminent Persons (ICEP), Switzerland. ICEP is charged with the responsibility of finding bank accounts in Switzerland belonging to non-Swiss indigenes [sic], which have remained dormant since World War II. It may interest you to know that in July of 1997, the Swiss Banker's Association published a list of dormant accounts originally opened by non-Swiss citizens. These accounts had been dormant since the end of World War II (May 9, 1945). Most belonged to Holocaust victims. The continuing efforts of the Independent Committee of Eminent Persons (ICEP) have since resulted in the discovery of additional dormant accounts -- 54,000 in December 1999.

The published lists contain all types of dormant accounts, including interest-bearing savings accounts, securities accounts, safe-deposit boxes, custody accounts, and non-interest-bearing transaction accounts. Numbered accounts are also included. Interest is paid on accounts that were interest bearing when established.

The Claims Resolution Tribunal (CRT) handles processing of all claims on accounts due non-Swiss citizens. I discovered a dormant account of ORDNER ADELE with a credit balance of 35,000,000 US dollar plus accumulated interest. The beneficiary was murdered during the holocaust era, leaving no WILL and no possible records for trace of heirs. The Claims Resolution Tribunal has been mandated to report all unclaimed funds for permanent closure of accounts and transfer of existing credit balance into the treasury of Switzerland government as provided by the law for management of assets of deceased beneficiaries who died interstate (living no wills) [sic].

Next: The phantom seller with the great (fake) bid history. ...
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