The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is warning its members of a multi-billion dollar scam thought to be based in Nigeria that is targeting that group and others. IFT says its membership directory, and those of other trade groups, is being illegally used to generate "Nigerian Scam" letters, which have taken in hundreds of millions of dollars annually worldwide. Though typically a nonviolent crime, the murders of several foreign businessmen have been attributed to this scam. Victims of the scam receive an unsolicited fax, letter, or e-mail, asking for assistance in transferring a very large sum of money from Nigeria to another country. Typically, the solicitor explains that the money resulted from over-invoiced or double invoiced petroleum or other supply and service contracts. The target is asked to provide a bank account for the transfer and is promised a percentage of the money in return. The solicitor then asks the target to pay an advanced fee of some sort -- transfer tax, performance bond, etc. Complications and other fees continue to arise until the target quits or runs out of money. The IFT has been cooperating with law enforcement agencies, but the group says it has little hope U.S. officials will be able to prosecute the criminals. Nonetheless, information on the scam is being compiled. If you receive a letter, are a U.S. citizen, and have not suffered financial loss, mail or fax the solicitation to the Task Force on West African Fraud, United States Secret Service, 1800 G St. N.W., Room 942, Washington, D.C., 20223; fax: 202/435-5031. Write on all documents: "No Financial Loss -- For Your Database." If you have suffered a financial loss, fax or send all documentation to the address above. Write on all documents: "Financial Loss -- Contact Me ASAP" and provide your phone number. If you don't receive a call back, contact the office at 202/435-5850.