In its latest incarnation, 'FBI Director' endorses the Nigerian letter

Mitch Lipka

For decades, even before the availability of easy and low-cost mass marketing via email, the Nigerian letter has existed to try to separate us from our money.

As silly as some of these letters are -- with their outlandish claims (a nation's leader has chosen you to hold his money), grandiose promises (you get 10% of his $25 million) and broken English (wiring your fund to the Bank informations) -- an awful lot of people lose any awful lot of money to this scam.

One of the latest, most amusing and most distressing variants delivers you an email that appears to be coming from the FBI. Even a moderately skeptical, slightly word-challenged reader ought to realize this is bunk.

But way too many people are going to reason otherwise. "Hey, this came from the FBI, signed by Director Robert S. Mueller III himself. I might really be able to come into free money." Sad, but it really happens. So, please, please, please, if you get an email like this, do not believe it, do not send your personal information, do not become a victim of this very old and very tired scam.

Instead, let's use this opportunity to educate about the Nigerian letter (aka 419 fraud, named after the section of the Nigerian criminal code dedicated to it). Over the course of your email life you likely will receive dozens of these letters, most of which will hopefully drift harmlessly into your spam folders.