It was a compelling photo of a woman, hooked up to a hospital ventilator, seemingly clinging to life. In reality, the picture is one piece of an elaborate scam.
US Postal Inspector Maria Albright explains, "The victim will receive a correspondence from a dying woman from a foreign country (or man) and they are explaining that they need a US citizen as beneficiary to their millions of dollars so they can get this money to a charity. And that's their dying wish."
The note explains how unsuspecting victims can help the woman in the photo fulfill her dying wish and make some money in the process.
"The pictures that are sent of the dying people and the death certificates that we received are used multiple times in multiple scams," said Albright.
Another variation on the scam --victims are told they inherited money. Suspects persuade victims a large amount of money will be coming into the US and they just need to take possession.
"Once the money is shipped to the United States it miraculously is held up in customs, then they have to pay all sorts of fees; Thousands and thousands of dollars in fees to get this money released," Albright explained.
There's more. Victims are then told the money has been dyed black or yellow to avoid detection. Scam artists might even send a sample. Suspects tell victims they need to pay to clean the money.
Postal inspectors call this a "black money" scam and say it cost victims around the world roughly $100 million. Officials say they have cases in Arizona, Minnesota, New York, and other states.
Some advice: if you get a suspicious email or letter with signs of this scam - report it.
"You will also be helping other people who may be scammed by the same individuals in the future," Albright says.
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