How to recognize a scam email

Discussion in 'Is this a scam?' started by Gentle Giant, Feb 4, 2007.

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  1. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Did you receive an unusual email? Did something strike you as being strange about the email? Well, there are some questions you can ask to answer your suspicions, and the questions are found below.

    If you answer “yes” to one of these questions, you might have a scam email.
    If you answer “yes” to two of these questions, you probably have a scam email.
    If you answer “yes” to three or more of these questions, you DO have a scam email. And just think, you figured it out yourself (maybe with a little help).

    1. Did you receive an email that just seems strange or unusual? Yes
    2. Did you receive an email from someone you don’t know? Yes
    3. Does the email address you merely as “Dear Friend”, “Dear sir/Ma’am”, or “Greetings”? Yes
    4. DID YOU GET AN EMAIL THAT IS TYPED IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS? Yes
    5. Did you get an email that is written in really bad English? Yes
    6. Is the sender’s name odd or unusual? Yes
    7. Did you receive an email that uses a free email server like “Yahoo” or “Hotmail”? Yes
    8. Does the email ask you to respond to a different email address, maybe from another free email server? Yes
    9. Did you receive an email with someone else’s name on it? Yes
    10. Did you receive the same email from 2 different email addresses? Yes
    11. Did you receive the same email several times on different days? Yes
    12. Does the email contain an address that seems unusual or maybe even fake? Yes
    13. Did you get an email that says you just won a lottery you didn’t buy a ticket for? Yes
    14. Did you get an email that asks you for a lot of personal information, such as your address, phone number, fax number, age, sex, bank account, etc.? Yes
    15. Did you get an email that doesn’t even mention the subject of money? Yes
    16. If you sell things on the internet, did someone just offer you an extremely high price for something? Yes
    17. If you sell things on the internet, did someone just offer you a ridiculously low price for something? Yes
    18. Did you receive an email that offers you a great deal of money for only a little work? Yes
    19. Did you receive an email from West Africa? Yes
    20. Did you receive an email from Europe or North America? Yes
    21. Did you receive an email from a widow, an orphan, a refugee, or a cancer victim that tries to play on your sympathies? Yes
    22. Did you receive an email that might involve you in some kind of activity that might be illegal (money-laundering, etc)? Yes
    23. Did you receive an email from a “banker” or “lawyer” asking to you to stand in as next of kin for someone you are not related to? Yes
    24. Did you receive an email that asks you to contact someone else, such as a lawyer/barrister, banker, or business partner? Yes
    25. Did you receive an email that asks you to keep the entire business secret from everyone? Yes
    26. Did you receive en email that asks you to respond Urgently because of time problems? Yes
    27. Did you get a document or a copy of a passport/ID card that looks wrong, or even fake? Yes
    28. Did you receive an email that asks you to pay some money in advance to get a lot of money in the future? Yes
    29. Did you get an email that asks or suggests that you should send money using “Western Union” or “Moneygram”? Yes
    30. Did you receive an email with a phone number you are not sure about? Yes
    31. Did you receive an email offering to help you recover money you have lost? Yes
    32. If you received an email telling you that you won a lottery, did you find the same ticket number or winning numbers after doing a Google search on them? Yes
    33. If you do a Google search on the sender’s name, do you find it associated with various internet scams? Yes
    34. If you do a Google search on the sender’s email, do you find it associated with various internet scams? Yes
    35. If you go to www.scamomatic.com and copy and paste the text of your email in the search, does it tell you the email is a scam? Yes
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 26, 2007
  2. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Did you receive an email that just seems strange or unusual?

    Of course you did. That's why you're here. Your instincts tell you, "something is wrong with this email". Your instincts are right. Listen to them.

    Should I respond to this email?
    No.
    There are two good reasons for not responding at all. Deleting the email is the best thing to do with it.

    1. If you do answer, you are telling the scammer that the email address (yours) is active. That isn't something you want to do because...

    2. if you answer, you are asking to be put on the scammer's mailing lists. Scammers sell or trade lists of email addresses with each other, and as soon as you reply, you're going to get more scam mails. You won't get off their list very easily. Even if the scammer doesn't give or sell your email address to other scammers, the scammer probably has other "modalities", or characters, who will start emailing you with a variety of other email scams.

    In short, delete it. Don't even bother tellling them that you know they are a scammer. Resist the temptation.
     
  3. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Did you receive an email from someone you don’t know?

    You get spam mail every day. No one seems to be able to avoid it. Getting an email from someone you don't know isn't that unusual. If you delete every such mail, you aren't going to have to worry about a scam.

    The thing that makes it a scam is when the email comes from a foreign government official, a bank auditor, a widow, an orphan or so on. They will tell you that they "found" your email while searching on the net. Whatever business they have, they will approach you because they trust you, a complete stranger, to help them move around millions of dollars.

    If it sounds to good to be true, it is too good to be true.

    Delete and and don't respond to it.
     
  4. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Does the email address you merely as “Dear Friendâ€￾, “Dear sir/Ma’amâ€￾, or “Greetingsâ€￾?

    If so, why? well, it's pretty simple. It's the theory of mass mailing. If a scammer sends out 1,000 emails, he doesn't have time to personalize every message, Dear John, Dear Mary, etc. Remember, he's mailing 1,000 people or more, so it has to be a very generic greeting like this. If you responded, then he would know your name and the second email would address you by name. The internet allows him to mass mail, just like spammers do. And all a scammer needs is one hit from a victim who will send money to make his month a good one, financially.

    If I get one of these, is it a scam?
    Probably. Best bet? Hit "delete".
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 28, 2007
  5. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Did You Get An Email That Is Typed In All Capital Letters?

    YES! WHY IS THAT?

    Well, no one knows for sure. Only a scammer could tell us. The best theory I've seen is that the scammer thinks that typing in caps is somehow more impressive, more serious, etc. Maybe he thinks you will be impressed. However, a government official, a banker, a lawyer, etc, would never type in all caps. That's because anyone in business or government would know some basic "netiquette" (internet ettiquette) and would know that typing in caps is considered to be SHOUTING at people.

    If you get an email in all caps, either the scammer has his cap lock stuck or he just isn't real bright. If it's in caps, it's a scam. Best bet? Hit "Delete".
     
  6. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Did you get an email that is written in really bad English?

    That is a sure sign of a scam. There is no excuse for poor English by an educated professional such as a lawyer, banker, or government official. Poor English might be an excuse for someone whose first language is not English or someone with a low educational level. An occasional typo or grammar mistake is one thing. We all make them. But a whole letter full of bad grammar?

    And that's one thing to keep in mind with scammers: some of them might be 14-year-old kids sitting around an internet cafe sending out scam emails for their old boss, or "oga" as he is called. They may not have the educational background to do this.

    Scammers also copy scam formats from each other, and if there's bad English in one, it just gets passed down the line.

    Bad English? Delete it. It's a scam.
     
  7. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Is the sender’s name odd or unusual?

    Is the name something like "Williams David" or "David John"? If yes, why is that? Well, there are a couple of possible answers. One is that the scammers, living in Africa, may not be really familiar with an English speaking culture such as in the UK or North America. They might not recognize the name as unusual.

    It might also be that the scammer has a stolen passport with a name like "David Williams" and he simply switches the names around and has a new scamming "modality" or character. Scammers may also use Williams David for 6 months, and then start scamming with the name David Williams. Likewise for David John or John David.

    Sometimes the scammers try to develop a name from a really different culture, such as Japanese or Spanish. Fortunately, we have lots of Japanese experts here and they will all tell you that not one single scam letter from a "Japanese" in this forum is a real Japanese name. The scammer might try a name like "Domingo Jose" trying to convince you they are Spanish, not knowing that both Domingo and Jose are first names.

    If the email has an unusual name, it's probably a scam mail. Best thing to do? Delete it.
     
  8. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Did you receive an email that uses a free email server like “Yahooâ€￾ or “Hotmailâ€￾?

    Scammers like free email servers, just like you might. However, a legitimate business company, a bank, or a government agency will never use free email servers, no matter what. That is because a legitimate company has a registered "domain", such as antifraudintl.org. A real business doman will usually have ".co" as part of the name. An organization, such as AFI, uses ".org". A government agency will often have something like ".gov" followed by the 2 letter national code such as ".us" or ".uk", etc. Even the real Central Bank of Nigeria would have a real domain and would never use yahoo. Likewise, a lottery claims agent will not use free email servers.

    If it looks like business and it has a free email server, it's a scam. Best bet? Delete it.
     
  9. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Does the email ask you to respond to a different email address, maybe from another fr

    Why? Well some scammers will have you respond directly to the same email account they emailed you from. Others have one account (A) which they use strictly for sending out scam emails, kind of like spamming. They want you to reply to a different account (B), because that's the one they will read for the particular scam they are sending to you. Sometimes the name on A and B will be the same. Sometimes, especially with a lottery scam, the names will not be the same. But in reality, A and B are almost always the same person. In fact, no matter how many people get involved in a particular scam format, they are almost always the same person.

    So it asks you to respond to a different email. Is it a scam? Most likely. Best thing to do? Delete it.
     
  10. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Did you receive an email with someone else’s name on it?

    Well, this happens sometimes. It's just generally called ASEM for Accidentally Sent E-Mail or Accidentally Sent Email Message. People do accidentally send an email to the wrong person. Scammers do it too. You may have gotten an email intended for some other victim. If it looks strange and you don't understand anything it's talking about, the best thing is, yes, you guessed, delete it. Don't respond to it and ask what it's about.
     
  11. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Did you receive the same email from 2 different email addresses?

    If you did, you can bet it's a scam. It might be one scammer sending out the same scam email from 2 different accounts. It could be 2 different scammers sending out the same email at the same time, but it's unlikely. Best bet? Delete them both.
     
  12. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Did you receive the same email several times on different days?

    Quite possibly you did. Think about it: a scammer sends out hundreds or thousands of emails, well, it gets kind of hard to remember who he sent them to. The scammer rule seems to be, "when in doubt, send it again". And again. And again, if necessary. They're probably all from the same person anyway.

    Best bet? Delete ALL of them and resist the temptation to respond to them to tell them to quit sending you the same email.
     
  13. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Does the email contain an address that seems unusual or maybe even fake?

    Well, maybe your email has an address. Is it real? Maybe, maybe not.

    Sometimes scammers will simply make up an address which they think looks like a real, local address for the place they use for their scam. But to someone from North America, 123 Main Street would be an obvious fake address. But what about some of those foreign addresses? Well they may simply be made up.

    Other times, scammers will actually use the internet and find an address that is real, but is not for the business they are using for the scam. Other times they will steal the name of a real company AND their real address (and even their webpage) to include in the email.

    If in doubt, ask us about it. Or try the handy tool, http://www.google.com/. Google is your friend. This will at least tell you if the address is possibly real. It may also lead you to a webpage that shows you that the address is fake or is regularly used by scammers. If you find this to be true, you know what to do, delete that email!.
     
  14. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Did you get an email that says you just won a lottery you didn’t buy a ticket for?

    This one is pretty simple and basic. If you didn't buy a ticket, you can't win.

    Lotteries have money to give away because people buy tickets. That money is used to pay the actual lottery winners. You can't win an online lottery because you probably never heard of the lottery and therefore you never bought a ticket. And believe it or not, rich people or rich companies do not run lotteries just to give away their money.

    Additionally, in some countries, it is actually illegal for you to win money from a lottery in a different country.

    Got a lottery email? It's a fake. It is NEVER real. Just hit "Delete".
     
  15. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Did you get an email that asks you for a lot of personal information?

    Things like, your name, your address, your phone number, your fax number, your age, your gender, your workplace, your bank account and information, etc? Think about this. If someone walked up to you on the street and started asking you for that kind of information, would you give it to them? Hopefully not. On the internet, even more so.

    Scammers would like to have this kind of information about you. They can steal your identity. They can do things in your name. They could scam using your name. They could even set up a fake credit card in your name. That's why identity theft on the internet is such a major issue.

    If you are asked for such information, don't provide it. Don't give fake information to the scammer. Don't even answer the scammer, just delete that email. It's a scam.
     
  16. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Did you get an email that doesn’t even mention the subject of money?

    It does sometimes happen that a scammer will send out an email that simply says something like "contact me". A very short and strange message.

    So is it a scam? Maybe. The best thing to do with it is to assume that it is a scam, especially if it's from someone you don't know. And just hit "delete".
     
  17. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Did someone just offer you an extremely high price for something?

    If you sell things on the internet (E-Bay, etc), did someone just offer you an extremely high price for something? Well, it is possible that the person does really want to buy your item and is willing to pay a premium price for it. Or maybe they are just clueless as to its actual value.

    On the other hand, if you got an email from a scammer, here's what they will do. They will offer to pay the high price with a negotiable instrument, probably a money order they have. The money order will be for a large amount. They will send you the money order, you can deduct the price of your item, and then they will want you to send them the balance by Western Union or Moneygram. They will not make serious arrangements for you to send them the item, and....you guessed it, that money order is going to be fake. YOU will be stuck with a fake money order, you will lose your money, and you will still not have sold your item.

    If you get an email like this, caution is advised. It might be a legitimate offer to purchase. But it may also be a scam, especially if they mention some kind of story, as above. If they do, delete it. It's not a real offer, and it's a fake check scam. Scammers love to steal money this way.
     
  18. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Did someone just offer you a ridiculously low price for something?

    If you sell things on the internet (E-bay) and if the answer is yes, it might be for much of the same reasons as above^^^. It is possible that the person does really want to buy your item but is just clueless as to its actual value.

    On the other hand, if you got an email from a scammer, they may be trying to enter into "negotiations", which will eventually end with them offering you a check for more than the agreed upon sales price. They will send you a negotiable instrument (like a money order) for a large amount. They will send you the money order, you can deduct the price of your item, and then they will want you to send them the balance by Western Union or Moneygram. They will not make serious arrangements for you to send them the item, and yes, that money order is going to be fake. You will be stuck with a fake money order, you will lose your money, and you will still not have sold your item.

    If you get an email like this, caution is advised. It might be a legitimate offer to purchase. But it may also be a scam, especially if they mention some kind of story, as above. If they do, delete it. It's not a real offer, and it's a fake check scam. Scammers love to steal money this way.
     
  19. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Did you receive an email that offers you a great deal of money for only a little work

    Well the old adage still holds here: if it looks too good to be true, it is too good to be true. In most cases like this, the scammer is going to ask you to act as a representative for him/her or for a company, and collect payments from foreign customers. Those checks you get would be fake and you will be stuck with the loss. You don't even want to get near one of those scams. It's not a legitimate offer.

    Delete it and move on with life.
     
  20. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Did you receive an email from West Africa?

    Well it is 99.9% likely it's a scam. Although Nigeria is famous for the "advance fee fraud" (or 419 Scam), the rot has spread elsewhere. There are also scammers in Ghana, Togo, Benin, etc. Probably every country in West Africa has them.

    And it isn't just West Africa. There are scammers in Kenya and many in South Africa.

    An email from Africa? Best bet is to just delete it. It isn't from the widow or child of a former African dictator, cabinet minister, gold mine owner, or cocoa plantation owner.
     
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