Email scam targets patriotism, greed

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By LPR Staff
Editor/POST-REGISTER

Given the opportunity, would you accept a share of the riches Saddam Hussein left behind after his arrest and subsequent execution? A recent email scam has been circulated in the hopes that most people would.

For some time, online scammers have developed new and clever ways to convince unsuspecting victims to release t

heir banking and personal information in an effort to execute a wide range of theft offenses, including identity theft and emptying bank accounts. Recently, a scam surfaced that preys on not only patriotism, but a feeling of justice in robbing a former dictator’s family of their ill-gotten gains.

The message, in some cases addressed from a “Lt. Col. William Russell,” suggests that a U.S. military division seized millions of dollars in Hussein’s assets when allied forces took Baghdad in 2003. Those assets, the message says, are being held in cash outside Baghdad, and the soldiers are attempting to find a way to smuggle them back to the United States. “Russell” goes on to ask his would-be victims for their assistance, in exchange for a share of the funds.

“Of course, it’s a scam,” said Caldwell County Veteran Services Officer Larry Corpus upon seeing the message on Monday. “It’s completely false, and just another way for [online scammers] to take people.”

Corpus suggested anyone who receives the message to research the claims made by the alleged soldier, but said there are many parts of the message which are factually inaccurate.

In a version of the scam received by one Lockhart resident on Monday, Russell claims to be a member of the First Armored Division, but does not specify in which branch he serves. In other versions, he claims to be a Marine.
The message suggests the soldiers intend to move the funds, mostly in $100 bills, out of Iraq either via bank transfer or by military transport using “diplomatic immunity,” but says the transfer must happen quickly because of President Barack Obama’s hopes to withdraw troops from Iraq.

According to the U.S. Army’s 1st Armored Division website, the division does have troops stationed in and around Baghdad, Corpus said it is highly unlikely the soldiers have – or have ever had – access to Hussein’s seized assets.
Requests for comment made to the Public Affairs Office at Ft. Hood were unreturned by press time on Wednesday.

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