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Scam Alert: Neo-Nigerian

THE SCAM: Nigerian lottery goes global

HOW IT WORKS: One of the most common scams is the Nigerian lottery con, where someone from Nigeria claims the targeted person has won a lottery or could come into some sizable money seized from an overthrown dictator. But enough consumers have learned that come-on by now that the fraud artists have adapted their tactics. One reader sent along about a dozen examples he's received, with claims of oil riches in Saudi Arabia, lottery winnings in Australia and inheritances from Greece. The catch: The would-be victim has to share banking account information, or pay a fee, to collect the prize.

WHAT'S AT STAKE: Your money

HOW TO BEAT IT: Regardless of the story, look for these details:

1. An offer of money that you didn't solicit

2. Exotic circumstances that seem plausible at first glance

3. Requests for personal financial information or identification, or money

Check all three off the list, or even two of them, and you've got an old scam in new clothes. Don't respond -- delete or hang up on the offer.

Contact Bee staff writer Ben van der Meer at or 578-2331.

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