Scam artists target victims of Gulf oil spill

MIAMI, July 22 Thu Jul 22, 2010 12:27pm EDT

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MIAMI, July 22 (Reuters) - An e-mail scam featuring someome purporting to be BP Plc's Chief Executive Tony Hayward is targeting victims of the company's massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Florida's attorney general said on Thursday.

Attorney General Bill McCollum issued a consumer advisory warning Floridians about the "phishing" scam, saying it appeared to have originated in Nigeria and had been referred to the United States Postal Inspection Service for investigation.

According to McCollum, authorities were advised of the scheme by a Florida woman who got an e-mail from someone identifying himself as Hayward, the CEO of BP (BP.L) (BP.N).

The e-mail promised that by replying to it, and providing personal information, the person would become the recipient of $500,000 in "grant funding from BP," McCollum said.

"Scammers and con artists are brazenly trying to capitalize on Floridians who have been affected by the Deepwater Horizon disaster," said McCollum.

"Consumers should be on high alert and should report suspicious e-mails such as this one to my office immediately," he said.

Hayward, the public face of BP after the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill, has been widely criticized over a series of public relations gaffes that stoked U.S. anger at the British energy giant.

(Reporting by Tom Brown, Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Doina Chiacu)

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