TRADING Standards officers are warning people not to be fooled by an African e-mail that promises to make the recipient rich.

The message, thought to originate from Nigeria, claims to be from an official in need of an overseas bank account.

It asks for the account details to be sent so that a large amount of money can be deposited. In return, the account holder is promised a percentage of the money.

Councillor Maureen Bateson, executive member for consumer rights said: "There is a very sinister side to these type of contracts, anyone who does reply and sends their details off is running the risk of their details being used for anything from buying goods and services to the creation of false identities and large scale fraud. They will inevitably be asked for advance payments which are meant to smooth the transaction, but will end up being lost."

Anyone who receives one of the e-mails should contact the Trading Standards Department at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council or the police.