No, the U.S. Secret Service does not want to give away $6 million

May 15, 2017

Wouldn't it be nice if you came into an inheritance from a long-lost relative or a large payout from the U.S. government? If you received a letter or email informing you of this good fortune, rest assured it is a scam.

These are new takes on the old “Nigerian Scam, where someone claiming to be a Nigerian prince offers to send a large sum of money in return for helping him get cash out of his country. Of course, there is a “fee” to collect the bounty, which does not exist.

Other variations of the scam claim an unknown family member has died and, for a fee, residents can collect a large and unexpected inheritance.

BBB recently received an email in our office claiming to be from Joseph Clancy, the director of the U.S. Secret Service approving a payout of $6.5 million to the email recipient.

“We write to officially inform you that we have just completed an investigation with the help of our Electronic Crimes Task Force regarding your approved nominee beneficial payment valued at the sum of $6,500,000.00,” the email read. “However, acting in our capacity as the Apex body authorized by the U.S. Government to reconcile foreign payment, we are pleased to inform you that full clearance has been granted for the release of the full payment of your approved nominee beneficial payment valued at the sum of $6,500,000.00.”

There was, however, one catch – all we had to do was send $125 to collect the money. Of course this is a scam, and like most of these letters and emails, the grammar was broken in places and some of the wording was confusing.

The harsh reality is that every single dollar lost to a scammer equals less money a family has to spend for food, utilities, home repairs and other vital consumer purchases that fuel our local economy. Money stolen by scammers creates a ripple effect in overall consumer purchasing that trickles down to legitimate, honest businesses.

BBB offers the following tips to avoid this and similar scams:

  • Start With Trust®. Check with BBB before responding to suspicious emails and letters that arrive unexpectedly.
  • Report scam letters to the U.S. Postal Inspector and scam emails to the FBI online at
  • Beware variations of these scams can involve unwitting American citizens in international money laundering, which is illegal.
  • Remember legitimate law firms, executors of wills, and others who have been named to distribute estate funds to rightful heirs normally do not request you to pay a fee to find out about your share of the estate.


“Look for the Seal” and Start with Trust®. BBB Serving Acadiana is a private non-profit organization. BBB strives for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses.

Please contact Better Business Bureau at (337) 981-3497 24 or 24 hours a day for information on businesses throughout North America. Consumers can also sign up for our free BBB “Scoop” eNewsletter by visiting and clicking on the “Programs & Services” tab.

BBB Serving Acadiana services the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Landry and Vermilion.