Email makes us more connected to the outside world, but also more vulnerable to scams. By scams, I do not mean "junk mail", where you are solicited to buy something. By scams I mean emails that are trying to harm you by stealing your password, money, etc. There are a few popular types of scams out there, which email users should be aware of:
- Nigerian scams: these are emails that arrive from someone in a far away country (usually in Africa or Asia), explaining that they have a large sum of money, but that in order to get access to that money they need your partnership in some way. The email will likely be addressed to you directly (e.g., "Dear Mr. Tashi"). Do not believe these claims, do not send money, and do not respond to such emails.
I am writing you in respect of a certain Mr. Chen Huang, who died with his wife and their only daughter in the Taiwanese plane crash of February 16,1998. Please view this link, if you will: [URL REMOVED]. The late Mr.Chen Huang was Head Department of Foreign Exchange, Central Bank of Taiwan. My name is Mr. Micheal Hurd, a British citizen by birth, with African descent. I am the Treasury Manager of one of the Commercial Banks here in UK. Please read the rest of my story and the reason for my writing you this mail The late Mr. Chen Huang was very rich by all standards and he has an account with this bank here in UK, where I work, which he opened way back in 1995. By the time he died in 1998, he had amasses very substantial amount of money in this account. Because he died with the wife and only daughter, this account has remained dormant to date. His only daughter who was his next-of-kin in the account, died with him in the crash. And because of this, this account has remained locked. Therefore, my purpose of writing you this letter, in your position and capacity as a non-resident, and non-citizen of Britain, is to request for your cooperation and collaboration with me, for you and I to demand for and indeed claim the deceased's money in this his bank account with my bank to ourselves, instead of allowing the British authority to do same... Essentially, I need you to organize the reception and custody of the money in any bank account, in any country outside UK, which may, or may not be your home country, or country of your normal domicile, until we share the money in the end. My own duty is to arrange and cause our bank to effect, the hitch-free movement/payment of the funds from the bank here to such your chosen destination and doing so in the most legitimate, lawful and ethically acceptable manner. To do this effectively, I have also gotten the cooperation of the Head of the International banking Dept of this our bank and the Chief Internal Auditor of my bank, whom I have co-opted in this project and who are already working with me here on the project now. There is currently $17,525, 300.00, (Seventeen million, five hundred and twenty five thousand, three hundred US Dollars only) in the said account, plus the compounded accumulated interests that have accrued to this sum from 1998 to date, all of which we will be asking the bank to pay to us, in your names and favour, vide Swift transfer(s), or cashier's cheques/checks...Please give me your urgent reply in very strict confidence, by email first and we will proceed from there. I prefer you contact me via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org first, for a start.
Yours very Sincerely
Mr. Micheal Hurd.
- Password stealing: if you receive an email from, say, "Bhutan Telecom Helpdesk" asking you to email back your email address and password (or some other details), it is a scam. A reputable source would never request your password by email! Note that the scammers can create a sender email address that might look legitimate. Never send your password to anyone by email.
- Bank scams: Similar to password scams, you might receive an email that looks legal (say, from Bank of Bhutan), requesting your account number, your ATM pin, etc. Never send such information by email!
Example (combined with a Nigerian-type scam):
We are exporters based in the Taiwan. We export raw materials into Europe, Canada, America and Australia. Our company, Yingshi Global Exports Company Limited was established in 2003. We are interested in employing your services, to work with us as our foreign payment receiving officer, who can recieve payments on our behalf for Goods and raw materials we supply to our clients in Europe, Canada, America and Australia. It does not matter whether you are already in full or partial employment, as this is a Part-time position that could become permanent based on your effort and participation which must be characterised by transparent honesty. It will certainly not affect your current business. Having a functional bank account to receive payments is an essential pre-requisite (having a company account is an added advantage). Subject to your satisfaction with this proposal, you will be made our foreign payment receiving officer in your region. If you decide to work for us, please forward to us immediately:
2.Full Contact Address:
10.Bank Name (Wire Transfer):
14.Sorting Code/Routing Number:
If you are interested, please kindly get back to me via my personal yahoo account: (email@example.com). We anxiously await your response.
SHI LEE HUN,
Yingshi Global Exports Company Limited
- Lottery scams: You might receive an email notifying you that you won the lottery in some country. Since you have most likely not purchased a lottery ticket, it is clearly a scam. You will also usually be requested to pay some "fee" in order to claim your win.
Example: see an example here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lottery_scam
- Green card lottery: This is not exactly a scam, but it is misleading. Some companies will try to help you enroll in the USA green card lottery for a high fee. However, enrolling in the green card lottery (officially called Diversity Visa) is FREE. Instructions are given here. You can enroll online by going to the official DV Lottery website. Note also that there are some websites posing as official US government sites. The legal website ends with a .gov suffix (not .com, .org, .net, etc.). Finally, winners are not notified by email, so if you receive an email notifying you of your winning, it is probably a scam.