Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Wary Consumer Warns Others to Beware of Internet Scams

DEAR ABBY: I have been hit on by scam artists more than once. They must think I have "sucker" tattooed on my forehead.

The latest has been a series of e-mails telling me that a Mrs. Virginia of the United Kingdom was killed in a car accident, and I am the sole beneficiary of her $12.5 million estate. All I have to do is provide them with my bank account number, and the money will be transferred from the Habib Trust Bank of England.

Well, I'm not stupid. I gave them the account number of a bank I no longer do business with. There is a grand total of $2.83 in that account. They are welcome to it –- have a cup of coffee and a scone on me.

Their scam promises they'll do all the paperwork –- but after a while they'll tell you that you either have to send an advance of several thousand dollars to "complete the transaction," or go to Nigeria to sign the papers. This going to Nigeria gets better: They'll tell you that you don't need a visa to go there, as they will "take care of all that." But as soon as you land in Nigeria, you'll be arrested for NOT having a visa.

So, Abby, please warn your readers if they receive any type of e-mail, or regular mail, or even a phone call to that effect, they should explain it all to the Secret Service like I did. No one should fall for this trap. I'll get $12.5 million when I am next in line to become the pope. I've got a better chance of coming into money by playing the lottery. -- EUGENE B., CLIFTON, N.J.

DEAR EUGENE: I assume from your letter that you're not waiting for a visit from the College of Cardinals. I'm sure my readers will be grateful for the warning, as well as the reminder that most things that seem too good to be true –- usually aren't.

DEAR ABBY: I'm the mother of two sons who are as different as night and day. My 27-year-old, "Ken," has lots of issues and drama. Our relationship has always been rocky. Nothing I have ever done has been good enough.

Ken calls me on the phone and calls me names. I have gone through years of therapy and am doing pretty well, but when I have contact with him I regress 13 years.

We hadn't spoken since Christmas because I stopped answering the phone when he called. However, last night I did pick up. Our conversation started out well, but it peaked to a horrible yelling contest. Ken called me terrible names and blamed me for everything bad that has happened in his life.

I love Ken, but I don't like him. Is there a way a parent can cut the apron strings? What kind of impact would that have on him? I go to church and sit alone and pray. It gives me some relief. But when he calls, it starts all over again. What is a mother to do? -- GRIEVING IN TEXAS

DEAR GRIEVING: You say that you have had counseling. Has your son? If the answer is no, urge him to get some and get his life in order. Should he refuse, make it plain that you will no longer tolerate his verbal abuse and again screen your calls. The longer you allow your son to cause you pain, the longer he will do it. He's an adult, and you have suffered enough.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600