Thursday, October 18, 2001

Boone Co. firms turn in letters

Suspicious mail didn't have anthrax

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BURLINGTON — An old scam perpetrated from Africa through the mail has created concerns in Northern Kentucky, as people perceive the letters as possible anthrax mailings.

        Two Boone County companies contacted the sheriff's department after receiving suspicious letters sent from overseas. The letters did not contain a biological agent, said spokesman Lt. Jack Banks.

        But concerns were raised because the letters — offering a financial deal through a Nigerian company and postmarked Republic of Congo — contained several characteristics that authorities have warned about:

        • Letters were addressed to the president or chief executive officer, but did not contain a specific name.

        • There were no return addresses.

        • A Dr. Ralph Abe of Lagos, Nigeria signed the letters.

        Lt. Banks would not release the names of the companies.

        The purpose of the letter is to get people to unwittingly give out their bank account number with promises of earning easy money. Once the author of the letter has an account number, he or she illegally transfers money out of the account.

        Lt. Banks said these letters have circulated for years and have not been used to deliver anthrax.

        “By publicizing this information, I think it will help to alleviate some of the fears in the Tristate,” Lt. Banks said. “We know there are a number of these letters out in the community. We feel like they are not just in Boone County.”

        Lt. Banks is aware of a third Boone County company that also received the letter in the last week. That letter was not turned over to police for testing.

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