A BOURNEMOUTH councillor has been targeted by hoaxers inviting him to pose as a dead man's relative in a bid to inherit his fortune.

Now the council's trading standards department is warning residents to be on their guard against unscrupulous tricksters and to ignore any similar letters which are certainly scams.

Cllr Ron Whittaker raised the alarm after receiving a letter purporting to be from a senior investment consultant in Singapore.

The sender claimed a Richard Whitaker had died along with his girlfriend in a car crash and there was no next of kin to inherit his $20 million fortune.

Andy Sherriff, the borough's principal trading standards office, said: "It is almost certainly a scam which originated in Nigeria.

"It's called an advance fee fraud and is adapted to suit different circumstances. Recently someone used the Israeli/Lebanon angle to try and encourage people to send money under bogus circumstances.

"The fraudsters are very flexible and gradually hook people in. Our advice is not to give any personal details or send money in advance to total strangers.

"I've heard of people who had sent money but never heard of anyone who has actually received any.

"A bank recently contacted us because one of their customers wanted to send £30,000 and we managed to halt the transaction."

Cllr Whittaker said: "I recognised it was a scam immediately because I know money doesn't come that easily.

He advised anyone who received such letters to destroy them or pass them on to trading standards.

"Under no circumstances should they send money or provide their bank details."