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Bankrate's scam roundup
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Being a top executive at ICEP, I have all secret details and necessary contacts for claim of the funds without any hitch. The funds will be banked in the Cayman Island, being a tax free, safe haven for funds and we can share the funds and use in investment of our choice. Due to the sensitive nature of my job, I need a foreigner to HELP claim the funds. All that is required is for you to provide me with your details for processing of the necessary legal and administrative claim documents for transfer of the funds in your name.

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Kindly provide me with your full name, address, and telephone/fax. I will pay all required fees to ensure that the fund is transferred to a secure, numbered account in your name in the Cayman Island, of which you will be capable of accessing the funds gradually and transferring to your country and other banks of choice in the world. My share will be 60 percent and your share is 40 percent of the total amount. THERE IS NO RISK INVOLVED.

The letter goes on to include the scam artist's contact information and Web addresses for various sites. Keep in mind that anyone can build a legitimate-looking Web site -- a Web site does not validate anyone's claims to cash.

If you receive these e-mails, you should delete them immediately or report them to the United States Secret Service by forwarding them to 419fcd@usss.treas.gov with the words "no money lost" in your subject line -- then delete them.

Here are more of the latest tricks scammers use to steal your cash and your identity:

Online auction scams
There are so many scams at online auctions. First is the escrow scam: the seller requests that you use a certain escrow company to pay for your item. But the escrow service is a fake in cahoots with the seller -- you're out all your money.

Second is the phantom seller with the great (fake) bid history. When you try to check up on this seller's history you will see nothing but praise -- too bad all the praise has been posted by the seller and his friends. Again, you're out all your money.

This next one is for sellers: the fake cashier's check. This scam bears a strong resemblance to the Nigerian letter scam. Here's how it happens: You get an order from someone who wants to pay by cashier's check -- they are usually outside of the United States. You deposit the check. The bank tells you the check has cleared and you send the items. Several days later, you'll find out the check really didn't clear (oops!) and the bank holds you responsible for the balance. In another twist, you'll get a cashier's check for more than the amount you requested. The buyer will ask you to refund the difference. You do -- then the cashier's check bounces and the bank holds you responsible for the balance.


Next: Never give out personal information online.
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