Saturday, April 30, 2011

Email scammers

   We've probably all had at least one of those emails. The ones telling you someone died and left a fortune in bank somewhere, and if you give out all your personal details, you can have up to 60% of that fortune.
   I've had 5 in the past week. I'm truly amazed at how many millionaires without family, friends (not even fake ones hoping to get money), or legal wills die leaving millions of dollars unclaimed in banks that all seem to be staffed by unscrupulous people who will happily break the laws of their country to make me, some random internet person they've never met, a millionaire. As long as I give them my home address, phone number, bank account details, and a copy of my photo ID. I'm sure it's completely legit.
  Clearly if I ever become a friendless millionaire, who's somehow lost all my family (maybe I murdered them for life insurance payouts?) and developed a deep distrust of lawyers and wills, I should bury all my money in the backyard. Because while I'm sure you're all very nice people, if I die suddenly, I don't want some random bank person giving you all my money.

   While the "I work at a bank etc." scam is clearly still very popular, the other day I noticed a new one has emerged. And I have to say, I was actually a little impressed at the thought that went into this. I was cleaning out the spam filter at work, and I clicked on an email with a subject line that was just ambiguous enough for me to wonder if it was an actual email that had been caught up by mistake, which does happen sometimes.
   In this new email scam, the person sending the message claims not to work at a bank, or be a deposed prince or whatever. They claim they work for the fraud and/or computer crimes department of whatever kind of police force or FBI/Scotland Yard equivalent their country has. They tell you that all the scammers have been caught, and while going through one of the hard drives your name showed up as someone they potentially tried to get money from. So under their laws you are entitled to millions of dollars in compensation. As long as you give them all your personal details.
   I would hope nobody out there would actually fall for this, but considering people lost money on the previous scams, there probably are few people who will get that email, read it and think "actually someone did try to scam me, and I do deserve compensation, and of course it's reasonable to think some poor African country can afford to give me 2.5 million dollars".


Toni said...

Well said! I'm constantly surprised that people get caught by this, but obviously they do or the scammers wouldn't bother.
I've had the 'Microsoft' phone calls lately, asking me to boot up my computer and give them details.

Windsmoke. said...

Most people who fall prey to these scammers are mainly greedy and extremely naive people. My policy is if the e-mail looks suspicious it probably is or if it's not a regular e-mail from someone i know it gets deleted straight away :-).

River said...

I don't even read them anymore. I just click on "block sender" and all the ones from that sender get deleted forever.
I haven't had many scams for a while now.
If only they'd skip all the hype and just send me a cheque.....

Marie said...

I suppose enough people fall for them to make it worth their while. I'm still stunned that people fall for the Nigerian scam these days. Surely every man and his dog knows it's a scam.

My advice is to not give personal or financial details to anyone who contacts you via email. And if they maintain they are from your bank, the ATO, or a law enforcement organisation, these businesses will not converse with you via email; they will send you a proper letter. And of course, never click on links they send you.

Although if you send me all of your bank account details and passwords, I can take a closer look at them all for you :-)

Red Nomad OZ said...

On the other hand, given the preponderence of legitimate organisations (like banks/gov't) throwing money around for all sorts of non-essentials, people assume the scams are reasonable, and the money is theirs by right!!