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 email from Europe or North America?

    Well, scammers are unfortunately everywhere. In particular, many of them have migrated and formed communities elsewhere. And, as you can guess, there are a few rotten apples among the immigrants as well. In Europe, London, Amsterdam, and Madrid are favorite places for them to scam from.

    In North America, Toronto, Houston, Texas, and Atlanta, Georgia have also become sites of large communities and some scammers as well.

    In Europe there are also numerous Romance scammers, particularly in Russia and Eastern Europe (sometimes referred to as "Vlads"). These scammers are often men posing as women trying to find romance with foreigners.

    If you get an email from one of these locations, you can almost bet it is a scam. Best thing to do? Hit "delete".
     
  2. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Did you receive an email from a widow, an orphan, a refugee, etc?

    Well you can bet that's a scam. The forms are pretty basic. Cancer victims will write you and tell you they have 90 days to live. They have a form of cancer that has "defiled" all forms of treatment. They usually have no friends or family, and they want to leave their money to charity, and they want you to make that dream possible for them. Sorry, but they are scammers, not cancer victims. They are never cancer victims.

    Is the email from a poor widow or orphan, maybe living in a refugee camp? Did their husband/father leave millions of dollars in a security company which the widow/orphan needs your help to get? Was he the former president of an African country? Was he a former government minister in an African country? Was he a former gold mine owner, cocoa plantation owner, or rich businessman? Well, sorry, but the person sending you the email is not a widow or orphan. It's just a scammer. It's always a scammer.

    Scammers love to play on your sympathies. Think how you would feel about a real cancer victim or widow or orphan. They want you to feel like that for them. But they are just scammers and they deserve none of your sympathy. Disdain, loathing: that they deserve.

    Got one of those emails? Hit "delete".
     
  3. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Did you receive an email that might involve you in some kind of illegal activity?

    You may get one of these. One type of scam involves moving large sums of money that belong to a former dictator/government official. Aside from the ethical question, you have to ask yourself, doesn't this "money" actually belong inside of country "x"? And the answer would be yes. If there actually was such money, it would have been stolen from the citizens of "x" and it belongs to them. It should be invested in their country. No matter what the barrister, lawyer, or banker tells you, you cannot ever get any of that money. You can give lots of your money to the barrister, lawyer, or banker.

    If the email is asking you to basically launder money through a bank (yours), you should know that money laundering is illegal in virtually every country, and banking officials come down hard on people who do that. Well, in many countries they do. There isn't really any money so you aren't going to be guilty of money laundering, but you can imagine your problems if the story was true.

    If what the barrister, lawyer, or banker says looks funny, it is. You know what to do: delete that email.
     
  4. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Did you receive an email from someone asking to you to be next of kin?

    This is a common scam format. A banker will suddenly find an inactive account with millions of dollars that belongs to someone who died, usually in a plane crash. If they are in Nigeria, they probably died on an accident on the Sagamu Express Road, apparently the deadliest road in Nigeria. A "barrister" or "lawyer" might also approach you with the same story. In any case, they will tell you they they can't get the money out of the account and out of the country (because it is called stealing and is illegal), but that you can help them do it.

    You can't. It's that simple. You can never be the next of kin for someone you are not related to. If someone dies, the money goes to their estate. A second question you might ask is, why would someone invest money in a bank in Nigeria when there are better and safer investment methods than a certificate of deposit in an African bank with higher returns? People wouldn't.

    No matter how many "documents" the scammer produces (see "Documents" in the "Little (Photo)Shop of Horror" section), no matter how many times they assure that everything is entirely legal and risk-free, it isn't. None of it is real.

    Got one of those emails? Just hit "delete".
     
  5. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Did you receive an email that asks you to contact someone else?

    No matter who is asking, it is a scam. No matter who they tell you to contact, it is a scam. Cancer victims ask you to contact a lawyer or friend. A business person will ask you to contact his or her "secretary" about getting funds moved from point A to point B. It doesn't matter, the story is a scam.

    Got one of those emails? Just hit "delete".
     
  6. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Did you receive an email that asks you to keep the entire business secret?

    If you did, then you can bet it's a scam. Scammers don't want you to talk to anyone about their "deal". It always has to be hush-hush. After all, if you talked to someone about it, like a spouse, a family member, a friend, that person might tell you it isn't real. A scammer wouldn't like that. Scammers thrive on secrecy.

    If you had just won millions of dollars in a lottery, wouldn't you tell everyone you know? Of course you would. And the media would be all around your house trying to make you famous. No secrecy about it.

    That's why we are here. We are trying to expose them publicly. As Miyuki says, "Knowledge and information are the scammer's worst enemies; silence is the scammer's best friend". We don't intend to be silent. Neither should you.

    Got one of those emails? The best thing to do is to delete it. If in doubt, get a second opinion. Don't be afraid to violate the scammer's secrecy or privacy. They aren't afraid to violate yours, after all.
     
  7. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Did you receive en email that asks you to respond Urgently because of time problems?

    Well, it is remotely possible that it could be real, but it is very unlikely to be true. Scammers always push you to do things quickly because...they want your money fast. They don't like delays. Armed robbery is fast, internet robbery is much slower, so they try to speed things up. If you get a mail telling you to move quickly or that gives you a time deadline, it's most likely a scam.

    Your response? Delete it.
     
  8. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Did you get a document or a copy of a passport that looks wrong, or even fake?

    That's because it is fake. Our section the Little (Photo)Shop of Horrors is full of fake passports and fake IDs. You might even compare the one you got with what we have. (And we're always happy to add to our collection). We also have pages and pages of fake documents. We also have lots of photos that scammers use, and re-use.

    If it looks fake, it is fake. Got one of those emails? Delete it. You don't need it.
     
  9. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Did you receive an email that asks you to pay some money in advance?

    Such emails promise you LOTS of money in the future for a little money in advance. That's why this is known as the "Advance Fee Fraud" or "Advance Fee Scam". If you get one, it's a scam.

    But could it be real? No it could not be real. It's never real. The only money involved is yours, and all you will do it give it away.

    Got an email that promises you a big financial future? Best just to delete it.
     
  10. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Did you get an email that asks you to send money using “Western Union"?

    It is about 99.9% likely to be a scam.

    Scammers love Western Union and Moneygram. That's because ID requirements are more lax than elsewhere, like banks. In addition, WU and MG use "security questions". You can set one up, but as long as someone at the other end knows the answer, they can get the money. And you really never know who is getting the money at the other end, although if you do send it, you have sent money to a scammer.

    Sometimes the email comes from a business that says they have difficulty in clearing payments from one part of the planet and that you can be the company's representative to do that. The story is false. Trillions of dollars move around the globe every day with no problems at all. Only scammers use this format claiming they have problems clearing their funds.

    If the email even mentions using Western Union or Moneygram, the best thing is just to delete it.
     
  11. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Did you receive an email with a phone number you are not sure about?

    There are some signs that will tell you an email is probably a scam.

    One is a phone number that uses the country code "+234". This is the country code for Nigeria. You will be calling there if you dial that number.

    Another problem is when someone tells you they are in the UK and gives you a number with the country code "+44". This is the country code for the UK. However, if the the number begins with +44 701...., +44 702....etc, these belong to a redirect service in the UK. In short, if you called that number, it could ring anywhere in the world. Is the person in the UK? Possibly, but not very likely.

    If you get a email with a phone, the best thing is NOT to call the number and just delete the email.
     
  12. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Did you receive an email offering to help you recover money you have lost?

    Well, firstly, if you have not lost money due to an internet scam, then you know the email is a scam.

    If you have lost money in an internet scam, then you should know that the chances of ever recovering it are about "zero". There are a few government agencies in a few countries that work to recover money lost due to fraud, but they are run by governments and they do not use free email servers.

    There is an agency in Nigeria, the EFCC, that is tasked with helping foreigners recover money lost in 419 scams. But guess what? Scammers know all about that and they love to pose as EFCC agents who can help you recover your lost money. They can't, and you won't. In fact, very often it could be the same person who scammed you for a lot of money 6 months ago, or whatever. Scammers love victims who are willing to pay and pay and pay. And if you've paid a lot, they will try and tap you again, telling you they can help you recover and that "they" are honest but the other guys were crooks.

    If you get one of these emails, you aren't going to recover anything. You will only pay. So just hit "delete".
     
  13. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    If you won a lottery did you find the same numbers after doing a google search?

    Great, you just won a lottery :) It might even tell you your winning ticket number, or your winning numbers. Google them. You may find that lots of other people have won with the exact same ticket number or lucky winning numbers. We even have some in "Scammer Central" (That's why we put them there).

    If you find the same numbers in a google search, the lottery is a scam. The best thing to do with the email is to hit delete.
     
  14. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Do you find the person associated with various internet scams?

    Google is your friend. Use it often. Google search the name of the person or people who send or are mentioned in the email. If the first few search items lead you to this website or a similar anti-fraud website, then you can bet the email came from a scammer.

    Congratulations! :1: You got an email from a celebrity scammer. Wow, are you lucky.

    But it's still a scam, so it's best to just hit "delete".
     
  15. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Do you find the person's email associated with various internet scams?

    Google is your friend. Use it often. Google search the email of the person who sent you the email. Google search the email of any other email mentioned in the email. If the email address(es) lead(s) you to this website or a similar anti-fraud website, then you can bet the email came from a scammer.

    It's still a scam and it's best to just hit "delete".
     
  16. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Does "Scamomatic" tell you the email is a scam?

    Scamomatic is a brilliant program designed by Joe Wein, one of the smartest guys we know. He's been scam-fighting for years and all of us are indebted to him and the fantastic effort he has put in over the years. Scamomatic is one of his amazing tools. Go to www.scamomatic.com, copy and paste the text of the email you received.

    Oh, and if Scamomatic tells you it's a scam, then it's a scam. And you can hit "delete".
     
  17. De Master Yoda

    De Master Yoda Administrator Staff Member

    Did you receive an email supposedly from the Uk but it is missing the pound sign= £?

    Unless someone is using a UK keyboard the pound sign £ is not available on their keyboard. Yet another indication that the scammer is sending from another location. So instead we see them using things like " ?1.2 million pounds" or other non related symbols. They are now attempting to use "1.2 million GBP sterling" but they still are stopped from using the pound sign.

    Another sign it is a scam is the use of US dollars or pounds. So we get scammers saying they have a lot of money in various accounts in places like Nigeria or Ghana etc yet they are never in their local currency.

    Now if a trader or businessman was living and working in say Nigeria and banking his money there, would he lose money by changing it to US dollars to store in a bank and then lose more money to change it back again?
    These are just other red flags to watch out for.
     
    Garreg Ddu likes this.
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