The Watchdog Team received a phone call today from a 71-year-old woman who wanted to make sure no one fell for a scam that nearly fooled her.
It was similar to the so-called Nigerian email scam, but it had a few extra steps and more emotional triggers.
The emailer claimed some foreign government had money waiting for her in an overseas account. The government, however, was informed she was dead by a person claiming to be a relative. The emailing “agency” was verifying this was really the case so they could disburse the funds to the appropriate person.
The amount of money was exhorbitant–$30 million. And the emailer made sure to tell her it was in U.S. currency.
She said something funny during the course of our conversation that caused me to chuckle:
Naturally, I couldn’t answer back if I were dead. But they knew that. They just wanted my information and probably, ultimately, some money from me to get the money from them.
Good thing she was savvy enough not to reply.
I’ve posted a lot on the blog about common online fraud schemes, but I also found a great source for email scams that everyone should read up on. Especially, like our citizen watchdog noted, if you are less experienced with email or know someone who needs to coaching on the subject.
Here is an excerpt from onguardonline.gov.
Some email users have lost money to bogus offers that arrived as spam in their in-box. Con artists are very cunning; they know how to make their claims seem legitimate. Some spam messages ask for your business, others invite you to a website with a detailed pitch. Either way, these tips can help you avoid spam scams:
- Protect your personal information. Share credit card or other personal information only when you’re buying from a company you know and trust.
- Know who you’re dealing with. Don’t do business with any company that won’t provide its name, street address, and telephone number.
- Take your time. Resist any urge to “act now” despite the offer and the terms. Once you turn over your money, you may never get it back.
- Read the small print. Get all promises in writing and review them carefully before you make a payment or sign a contract.
- Never pay for a “free” gift. Disregard any offer that asks you to pay for a gift or prize. If it’s free or a gift, you shouldn’t have to pay for it. Free means free.
Filter Tips: 10 Scams to Screen from Your Email
- The “Nigerian” Email Scam
- Work-at-Home Scams
- Weight Loss Claims
- Foreign Lotteries
- Cure-All Products
- Check Overpayment Scams
- Pay-in-Advance Credit Offers
- Debt Relief
- Investment Schemes