Officials warn of scam

A substance found in a letter mailed to a Salem address has not yet been identified.
SALEM -- A mailing known as the Nigerian letter, though not a biological threat, should be reported to local law enforcement agencies, Salem Police Chief Michael Weitz said.
Weitz said the Nigerian letter is making the rounds of area businesses, primarily to health-care providers such as physicians and psychologists.
He said he has received a few calls from recipients concerned that the letter may contain an anthrax threat.
"It poses no biological threat, but it is a fradulent mailing," Weitz said. "People see a foreign stamp and no return address, and they worry about anthrax. There's no connection, but the mailing just happens to be making the rounds now when everyone is on alert because of terrorism."
Weitz said the letter is professional quality and aimed mostly at foreign nationals. He said the letter states a person named Kayode Nelson has $45 million tied up in bank accounts the Nigerian government won't allow him access to. The letter asks people to provide safe accounts the money can be transferred to, promising them money for the use of their accounts, he said.
"Of course, when people give their bank account information, then their money is siphoned out," Weitz said. "This is a scam that goes around every three years or so in different forms. People have lost millions of dollars."
The letter has either a stamp or a postmark from the Republic of Togo, he said.
Letter investigated: Meanwhile, Weitz said Ohio Department of Health officials have not identified the white powdery substance found in a letter mailed over the weekend to a Wilson Street man.
Weitz said two detectives took the letter and a $20 bill from Taco Bell to Ohio Department of Health labs in Columbus.
He said so far the lab had done more than 50 tests in similar cases across the state, and nothing has tested positive for anthrax.
"They're swamped down there," Weitz said. He said detectives had to wait more than 30 minutes after they arrived before they could turn the letter over to a health department official.
Police responded to Taco Bell at 1872 E. State St. about 8 p.m. Saturday after a manager reported a customer at the drive-up window acted suspiciously.
The manager told police that the customer, wearing latex gloves, paid for his order at the drive-up window with a $20 bill he removed from a sealed paper envelope. The manager placed the bill in a plastic bag and called police.
Similar action: Police took similar action Friday evening after a resident in the 400 block of West Wilson reported a white powder had surfaced on mail he had received.
Weitz said the letter was in a window envelope and the man saw the powder through the window.