Scam alert: Be careful when opening your mailbox

Be careful when you head to your mailbox to pick up your mail today. It appears to be a new twist on an old scam, one that used to arrive in your email inbox is now arriving in your mailbox. They come dressed in official-looking envelopes delivered by the post office. And scammers aren't just targeting your money, they're also making money by recruiting unsuspecting workers right here in the U.S.

The postal service is the most trusted federal agency in the U.S., and it's this trust thieves are banking on to get into your bank account.

In one alleged scam, the sender of a letter identifies himself as the head of investment banking at Barclays Capital. The letter names a relative of the recipient, and says after that person's death, his investment containing $8.3 million is set to be released to his next of kin.

"We see them coming in from the UK, Canada, Australia, Spain. They're coming from everywhere," said Jeff Fitch, U.S. Postal Inspector.

Fitch says the letters are well-written, and they often come with a U.S. Postmark. Because the letters arrive in the mail and not via email, they can appear legit.

Here's what appears to be the second part of the scam. Fitch says thieves are now recruiting people eager to work from home to do the dirty work.

"Print this stuff up, mail it out for us and we'll send you guys a check and you'd mail us back the difference," Fitch said.

"They're just preying on people's money when there's not much money in people's bank accounts right now," said Neal Oppenheimer, who received a bogus letter.

He got a suspicious letter in the mail one day. "It was one of those letters where you've inherited millions of dollars. I'm a lawyer, just pay these fees, lets get going, get you your money."

Fortunately, Oppenheimer realized it was a scam. He reported it and shredded the offer.

Bottom line, be careful the next time you see a suspicious letter in your mailbox or inbox no matter how convincing. Take a minute to make sure it's not another scam.

If you suspect you've received a letter scam, postal inspectors advise you to bring it to your local post office. They'll send it to a national database that inspectors use to track trends and issue public warnings.

Have you ever received a suspicious letter? Did you fall for the scam? Are these scams obvious, or could people easily fall for them? Leave your thoughts below.

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