12 ON YOUR SIDE: Beware latest email scam

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - We're investigating the latest attempt to con you out of your money. Next time you check your email, a Nigerian fraud may be among the messages in your in-box. The general drift of these letters is to scam you out of your money.

There are many different versions but the intent is always the same - a letter from Princess Anna Khalifa is the scam that's going around now. The woman who purports to be the letter's author is a scammer and probably a man - or maybe even a group of people - pretending to be Princess Anna Khalifa.

The tone is urgent and plays to the reader's religious belief. She claims her father, a leader in the Sudanese government, died in an accident and left $25 million. She even provides a link to a news story as proof and promises millions for help moving the money from a finance company to your bank account.

Unbelievable, but it nabs victims.

"Some folks are just greedy," said Tom Gallagher with the BBB. "We feel very sorry for them, but frankly, they deserve what they get."

If you respond, ultimately you will be asked for your name, address, phone number and to pay a fee. Once you meet one request, there will be others until you give up or run out of money.

"Princess is saying, 'I want to come to the United States. I want to seek asylum, and this will fund the whole thing,'" said Gallagher. "Once they get your account number, you're toast. They'll get into your account. They'll wipe out whatever's in there."

Gallagher says no one has ever received money. They've lost their savings and there are reports of people losing their life.

Advance fee fraud, also known as 419 fraud, is a reference to the criminal code in Nigeria which outlaws cheating, stealing and misrepresentation. Investigators say the industry has stolen about five billion dollars over decades.

Scammers hide behind untraceable email addresses so finding them is next to impossible, and it's not a priority for African governments.

"Don't figure I can trick them into playing this game, because these people are pros. They're very, very good at doing what they do, and what they're doing is taking money from unsuspecting Americans."

If you get one of these letters just delete it. If you lost money, don't be embarrassed. Report it to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.Ic3.gov or call 804-261-1044.

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