Nigerian scam surfaces on Internet

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NIGERIAN FRAUDSTERS have turned to the Internet to perpetrate one of the longest-running and notorious scams of the past decade.

Police are warning businesses to expect a new flood of fraudulent e-mails purporting to come from civil servants in the Nigerian government.

The e-mails offer the recipient a generous slice of a multi-million pound fortune, though once victims are sucked in the offer becomes contingent on the "civil servants" receiving laptop computers, jewellery and eventually thousands of dollars in cash. According to the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS), the fraudsters are resorting to electronic communication as police forces become more adept at intercepting such fraudulent invitations sent through the post. E-mail has the additional advantage of being free.

One e-mail currently in circulation, from "Prince Edward Eze", invites you to help him transfer $41.5m into your account because "by virtue of our position as civil servants, we are not permitted by law to operate foreign accounts".

"Your company was recommended by an Associate who assured us in confidence of your capability and reliability in the prosecuting of a transaction of this Magnitude Requiring Maximum Confidence and Trust ," the e-mail adds.

It was passed to The Independent by Shafiq Mohammad, the finance director of Stockport College of Further and Higher Education. "I cannot understand how they got hold of my address," Mr Mohammad said. It was sent from a Yahoo accountwith the return address"".