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US state issues alert over Swedish email scam

David Landes · 8 Feb 2011, 11:31

Published: 08 Feb 2011 11:31 GMT+01:00

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The emails, which are written in Swedish, claim to have been sent by Minnesota's top legal officer, Attorney General Lori Swanson.

According to Swanson's office, the fraudulent emails claim that the recipient has inherited "money or property from an unknown relative in Minnesota who has recently passed away".

Considering that a great many of the more than one million Swedes who immigrated to the United States between the mid-1800s and early-1900s ended up in Minnesota, many Swedes could find it plausible that they have a long-lost relative in the state.

According to recent US census data, nearly 10 percent of Minnesota residents have Swedish roots.

Minnesota's status as a primary destination for Swedish immigrants was also elevated to near mythical status in Sweden by a series of four novels written by Vilhelm Moberg in the 1950s collectively referred to as "The Emmigrants" (Utvandrarna), which chronicle the journey of a family from Småland in south central Sweden who settled in Minnesota.

The email scam urges recipients to contact a UK-based "lawyer" to collect the inheritance left to them by their fictional Swedish relatives.

A spokesman for Swanson's office told the local Star Tribune newspaper that the attorney general's Swedish-sounding last name also added credence to the emails.

"People in Sweden know there's a large population here," he told the newspaper.

"There are relatives that travel back and forth quite a bit."

Swanson's office urged anyone who has received the email to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Despite the warnings from Swanson's office, police in Sweden told The Local they haven't received any reports about the scam.

Story continues below…

"There haven't been any reported to us, but that doesn't mean there aren't any victims out there," said Peter Ericsson from the internet crimes division of the Swedish National Bureau of Investigation (Rikskriminalpolisen).

Police authorities in Jönköping County in south central Sweden, an area from where many Swedes emigrated to the United States, also hadn't heard from any victims of the scam in their region.

"Using lawyers in the UK is a common feature of these scams, but connecting them to Minnesota is something new," spokesperson Linda Wangström told The Local.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:17 February 8, 2011 by johnny 2011
He, He so the Nigerians have moved to Minnesota and Sweden. Of course, nobody sends you an email re an inheritance of millions of $$$$. Believe me you will get snail mail!!!
12:56 February 8, 2011 by krow
@johnny, Don't think it is proper to categorise a group of people who can be from anywhere in the world as a nation doing scam. Forget what you see on cnn and bbc, follow the fact that crime can emaciate from any section. Beside Swedish is not the official language of the country you mentioned. If it was not properly written or Google translator, there would be no need to issue warning.
13:52 February 8, 2011 by johnny 2011
krow they have been doing it for years and it is well documented & warned against that it is difficult to get to them for fraud since they are located in Nigeria. But it might of course be Swedes doing it too.
13:56 February 8, 2011 by Iron E
Neither of your comments make a lick of sense.
14:03 February 8, 2011 by nyh2o
what i dont get is if they have a listed contact person, why doesnt the fbi get in touch with them directly?

and in a way, if you are so stupid to believe this in todays world - even if you survive this, something else will get to you very soon.
14:25 February 8, 2011 by saraswed
@johnny 2011

i think it was rash and stupid conclusion .people may conclude and document whatever.with people calling out SD and their root racist does it mean in Sweden we all are racist ???.pointless argument.
16:06 February 8, 2011 by calebian22
Good grief! Where have you people been? Newspapers and the internet are not available where you are living? It is called Advance fee fraud or wait for it, the Nigerian scam.

Not that all Nigerians are scam artists, but not knowing a well known and documented danger makes you a target. We don't know what the origin of this particular scam is, but it could very well be our friends in Africa mixing things up a bit.
17:07 February 8, 2011 by UScitizen
These scammers in Minnesota are probably part of the Somali gangs that are taking over in credit card fraud and prostitution. This is a logical next step.
23:02 February 8, 2011 by Great Scott
My god, is this how low the Swedish government will stoop just to rake in taxes.
06:41 February 9, 2011 by UScitizen
I know, this is just a scam the US government came up with to get the Swedish people's minds off Assange! If all the people here are concerned with their money they won't have time to cook up those crazy anti-American conspiracy theories.
14:23 February 10, 2011 by DJECKY
What ever game the black are playing they are doing copy right,or copy wrong.SO uncle johnny maybe you have to turn back to your history books.

Africa was a vergin ,peaceful,innocent land untill the white man came things has never been the same again.THE white man thought Africans how to steal cheat,kill themselves,loot pretend to follow God but lucifers ,belzerbub argents.remember the whites fooled the African with a bottle of RUM,WHISKY,CIGARETTES inexchange of human beings as Slaves ,Not to mention gold,diamond, silver, oil

Uptill today the whites still come and say they want to teach Christianity and inturn loot natural resources,they pretend to bring democracy inturns dube Africans from their wealth.

What are the artifect of the 17th century Benin state in NIgeria doing in British meseums today??

Do you watch your swedeish TV mr Johnny 2011?. just tune to channel 6 and watch documentaries on how African wealth migrated to Europe unknown.

Well just leave the Nigerians out of you racist mind SIR.
02:59 February 13, 2011 by Alasdair MacCorquodale
@ johnny 2011

Exactly what was on the tip of my tongue.
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