Nigerian Oil Scam Returns: Chief Obi Won't Make You Rich

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If you receive a letter from a Chief Peter Obi saying you can get rich from investing in Nigerian oil, throw it in the garbage.

"It's a scam that comes around once a year," Gila County Sheriff's Det. Brian Havey said. "Occasionally, people fall for it."

A local business owner contacted Havey after receiving Chief Obi's correspondence on official-looking letterhead.

Obi, who claims to be the managing director and chief executive officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, asks recipients to help him transfer $41 million into a foreign account. By doing so, they can make an $8 million commission.

The phony corporation presents itself as an entity of the Nigerian government that wants to protect its "undeclared windfall from sales of crude oil during the Gulf war," but needs assistance since "government officials are not allowed to operate foreign bank accounts."

The catch, Havey said, is that participants put up some of their own money to start up the account and then give their account number to Obi so he can deposit the commission.

"You give them your account number so they can do electronic transfers," Havey said.

"The only thing that gets transferred is your money -- they remove your money from your account."

Another way the gullible get burned by the scheme is that Obi says he can only be contacted by phone or fax.

"It might be difficult for you to get through to me because of my country's poor telecommunication system," according to the letter. "If you get a busy signal, keep trying and you will get through."

Calling the African country is costly.

"The phone calls to this country are generally about $2,200," Havey said. "They scam you that way, too. The longer they can keep you on the phone the more money they make."

The letter comes in a hand-written envelope with a Nigerian stamp, Havey said.

According to Obi, the hand-written envelope is an "international guise to remove suspicion."

According to Havey, people fall for the scam every year.

"We had a victim here two years ago -- a business person," Havey said. "The case goes straight to federal investigators and they haven't had much luck finding out who it is."

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