'Saddam's son' e-mail scam
Friday, 13 June, 2003, 10:38 GMT 11:38 UK
An e-mail claiming to be from a son of Saddam Hussein and asking for help in accessing $45m funds, is one of a flood of scams targeted at people in the UK.
Police said a businessman in Edinburgh received a bogus appeal by e-mail which claimed to be from Uday Hussein.
A new warning has been issued about e-mail scams after it was revealed that there has been a fivefold increase in the number of fraudulent letters and e-mails originating in West Africa.
These will cost the UK public Ã‚Â£150m this year, according to police.
Officers from the Lothian and Borders force received 350 complaints last month from people who were targeted by the conmen.
The fraud usually involves a letter or e-mail from someone claiming to be a senior civil servant who wants to deposit government funds in the UK, in return for a percentage of the money.
Based on letters received over the past three years, the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) estimates that the Scottish public will be conned out of Ã‚Â£63m this year, out of a UK total of Ã‚Â£150m.
Those who answer the e-mails are drawn into an elaborate fraud where they end up losing thousands of pounds.
The specialist fraud unit in Edinburgh has set up a dedicated e-mail address for people to forward the scam letters.
An Edinburgh business received an e-mail three days ago claiming to be from Uday Hussein asking for help in accessing $45m worth of funds.
'Web of deceit'
Detective Inspector Jim McCartan, of Lothian and Borders Police's Specialist Fraud Unit, said: "The main form of these frauds is now via e-mail which is why we have set up a dedicated e-mail address for people to forward the letters to us.
"We've experienced a huge increase in these communications being reported to us which may be down to people being more aware or because there are more of these scams about.
"The goal of the criminal is to delude the victim into thinking they are being drawn into a very lucrative, albeit questionable, arrangement.
"Once they are drawn into the web of deceit they end up losing thousands of pounds and often feel very foolish."