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I have a tax liability question regarding an account in Zenith

Bank in Nigeria. I reside...
I have a tax liability question regarding an account in Zenith Bank in Nigeria. I reside in the United States and I have met a friend only online who is in the UK. WE have never met but have been corresponding for about 10 months now. He had his lawyer who is in Lagos, Nigeria put the $500,000 inheritance his father left him into a savings account in Zenith Bank and also put this account into my name, Leith L Cobb. The lawyer provided me with a Zenith Visa ATM debit card for the purpose of accessing the funds in this account. This card DOES work as I withdrew only $20.00 from the account and found that there was only a balance of $40.00.
I received an email from the lawyer telling me that as the beneficiary of the fund, I am reqiured to provide a certificate (EU), known as the AAA (Approval Authentication Authorization) to be signed by the president of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). He said this is because of the HUGE AMOUNT of money leaving Nigeria and entering the United States. He said the cost of the Certificate is $11,500 that I must pay. He also said once I make this payment, the $500,000 in funds will then be accessible using the ATM card.
I have never signed any documentation to obtain the ATM card or to establish an account in Zenith Bank. Am I legally responsible for paying the $11,500 fee? If I don't pay it what will happen? Since the ATM card did work for me here in the US when I withdrew the $20.00, it's difficult for me in deciding if this is a possible scam or my friend is being honest. Please give me some advice. Thank you
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Answered in 17 minutes by:
10/6/2013
taxmanrog
taxmanrog, Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 777
Experience: Licensed CPA, MA, MST with 31 years' experience. Teach Accounting and Tax courses at Masters level.
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Welcome to Just Answers! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to assist you! I will do my best to help!

 

This is yet another twist to a fraud scheme that has been going around for years! First of all, there is no way you can be made liable for any amount of money for simply being named as a beneficiary! Especially if you never signed anything stating that you wanted to be a beneficiary, and that you accepted the liability.

 

The FBI has warned of similar frauds such as this. http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud

 

If it were legitimate, a lawyer would have gladly advanced the "fee" in exchange for being retained to administer a large sum such as this! For the crook, the $20 is a small amount to pay in exchange for getting $11,500 from you! Take the $20, use it to buy lunch, and consider yourself lucky!

 

I wish I had a better answer for you! I personally have gotten many of these letters. I wish that it were real! It would solve many problems!

 

I hope this answers your questions! If you have any more, please ask! If you have found my answer helpful, please rate me highly! I would appreciate it!

 

Have a great weekend!

 

Roger

taxmanrog
taxmanrog, Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 777
Experience: Licensed CPA, MA, MST with 31 years' experience. Teach Accounting and Tax courses at Masters level.
Verified
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taxmanrog
taxmanrog, Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 777
777 Satisfied Customers
Experience: Licensed CPA, MA, MST with 31 years' experience. Teach Accounting and Tax courses at Masters level.

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