The Royal Queen of Rhudanistan is Not Your Friend: New Take on Wire Transfer Scam

State Attorneys General throughout the country are seeing an increase in the number of consumers getting bamboozled out of thousands from a new scheme that is a remake on an old sweepstakes scam: the wire transfer.

The old scam works like this: you receive an email from a “National Sweepstakes” representative, typically in Canada, who informs you that you’ve won a million dollar lottery. All that’s needed to transfer the money to your account is a wire transfer of a few hundred dollars for “handling.” The wire transfer is a favorite of con artists because once the cash leaves the mark’s account, it’s often impossible to trace.

The new scam still involves a wire transfer, but instead of an email from a representative of a country showering you with sweepstakes winnings, an exiled royal family member begs for your help in reuniting her with her money. In exchange for accepting her funds into your U.S. account, she will split it with you. She assures you that a small fee will be charged from your account, but only if you provide a confirmation code. The code is bogus, and so is the royal family member. But the get-rich-quick scheme is enticing enough that many consumers are forking over their cash without asking questions (like why it is that the princess is writing to you).

The same rules apply to sweepstakes and money schemes that always have: don’t accept candy from strangers.

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