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A different kind of predator

by Chris Hansen, Dateline correspondent

"My name is Mrs Maryam Ibrahim,...{I am} suffering from long time cancer of the breast...Before my late husband died  {he} deposited the sum of 20 million dollars ..20% of this money will be for your time and effort..."

If you're like me, you've likely received unsolicited e-mails offering you the chance of a lifetime. A financial windfall is out there and all you have to do is take advantage of a rare opportunity. They usually sound a little fishy. The pitch goes something like this --  a government official or someone with influence in an African nation has access to a fund containing millions of dollars. But, for some reason that person needs your help to get the money out of Africa and into another country. Oh, and by the way, you'll need to come up with $14,000 in processing fees and expenses. Once you wire the person this money…the multi-million dollar funds transfer can go through and you'll get a generous cut of the deal, perhaps $2 million dollars.

You might think that most people would simply hit the delete button, but our investigation reveals that perhaps tens of thousands of people each year take the bait and are taken for a ride, some losing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Usually these cases go uninvestigated, because federal authorities are busy with more pressing matters like counter-terrorism. We decided to take up the challenge and go after these scammers. As you'll see it's an investigation that takes halfway across the world and let's us turn the tables on the conmen.

Chris Hansen reports on 'To Catch a Con Man,' Dateline Tuesday, March 20, 8 p.m.

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