It must be the season for internet scam attempts in my neck of the world wide web. In the past 3 days, I’ve gotten 2 e-mails trying to convince me to send some random people information about myself in exchange for money. I’ll share them with you so you can ignore them, too. I usually have a pretty good spam filter, but these came through with names and relatively normal subject lines, so they got through.
The first one was allegedly from a woman in the UK and it had the subject line “My Beloved Friend.” Interestingly, though, you had to reply to a man at a yahoo.de address – I still haven’t figured out where that is.
Anyway, this woman supposedly was married to an English nobleman who was a physician. He is now dead and she is dying of cancer. Their “vow” in life was to “uplift the downtrodden and the less-privileged individuals. Supposedly, her husband left 5,500,000 pounds to set up a foundation for that purpose when he died because they never had children. Now she is dying and it won’t get done. So she has selected me to set up the Henry & Elizabeth Moor Charity Foundation for her. All I have to do is contact her lawyer to “tell him the [she] has decided to will the sum to [me] and the reason for doing this is best known to [her].and that he should start preparing the necessary documents to enable a bank to transfer of Five Million and Five Hundred Thousand Pounds from [her] late husband’s account to [mine]. Also let his (sic) know that I will pay him for his services.” I was supposedly recommended to her as a trust worthy person by a very good friend who works in the chambers of commerce “this is where all businesses and individual contact are kept.” She closes by saying “And again due to my illness and the presence of my family members, I will not be able to always attend to you, so please feel free to say anything you want to say to my lawyer.”
A dying woman in England wants to give me her husband’s estate to set up a foundation because they had no children? Me – someone she’s never met? And she got my name where? From a friend of hers who works in the chambers of commerce? Why do I need to tell her lawyer she’ll pay him to do her legal work? Shouldn’t he know that already?
I can only imagine what information this “lawyer” would need from me. My bank account number, maybe, so he could wire the money into my account. Yeah, sure!
I recognized this scam right away for 2 reasons. One is that I have seen it profiled on news programs, like the reports Brian Ross has done for ABC news. The second reason is more concerning – my Lakota friends apparently received one and were considering sending the required documents. I learned this from one of their daughters when we were shopping back in October. She thought it was a scam and tried to tell her mother that. I told her to keep trying because it was. They don’t have much for anyone to steal and their credit rating is probably not tiptop, but there is concern about identity theft. They are working to improve their lives and I know they don’t need any other problems in their lives.
I do wonder if they got my e-mail address by sheer coincidence or whether they asked my friend for “references” or perhaps “phished” in the computer she uses. I’ll be following up on that one!
The second scam came from the “Fondation de France” in Paris, France. Uh-huh! Their mission: “To help organisations to realise philanthropic, cultural, scientific and general interest projects.”
That really limits their scope of interest, doesn’t it?!!
The message was titled “Donation Award 2008” in the subject line. Okay. It was sent from “battcave” (what a hoot!!) at an address I’ve never seen. Of course, the reply to line indicated someone else at a different address. Interestingly, the foundation had a different address from the others.
This message was addressed “Dear Internet User.” At least they weren’t trying to convince me that they’d gotten my name from a friend. They write “This e-mail might come to you as a surprise/shock. The board of trustees of the Foundation de France has given you the privilege to be a beneficiary for the 2008 Cash/Grant Award.” They go on to tell me the foundation is a “non-profit organisation recognised by the government as a charity working in the public interest. The foundation is an umbrella organisation for other foundations; it receives donations and legacies and awards scholarships and prizes.” Very interesting. Then they add “After the good work of the Foundation de France, the United Nation decided to contribute, which bring the interest of European Union and the Economic Community of West Africa State.” What?
Then came the good part. “Based on the random selection exercise of internet websites and millions of supermarket cash invoices worldwide, you were selected amongst the lucky recipients to receive the award sum of US$1,350,000 as charity donations/aid. (Note that all beneficiaries were selected randomly from over 100,000 internet websites or a shop’s cash invoice around your area in which you might have purchased something from.)”
Who writes this stuff??!!
I’m supposed to send my full name, address, country, phone number, age and the “qualification number” they supplied to the “Executive Secretary” at yet another e-mail address – this one at gmail.
You know, these things would be funny if they weren’t so damned unscrupulous! With me, they got a skeptic who is savvy enough to know B***S*** when she sees it. I feel really concerned for the folks who are slightly more naive. Like my Lakota friends. They have such dire need – the lure of millions of dollars is indeed a cruel hoax.
I’m writing about these because they really ticked me off and because I don’t want anyone else to fall for them. In the words of a local consumer reporter:
“NEVER, EVER GIVE OUT YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION TO SOMEONE YOU DON’T KNOW!!!”
“IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT PROBABLY IS!!”
And I’ll add one of my own –
USE YOUR GOD-GIVEN BRAINS!! Think about what you’re reading and how it makes no sense.