Email scams work best on people who think they’re too smart to be fooled. Here are some of the biggest and most outrageous email scams ever. Would you be fooled?
Email Scams Use Fear, Greed, Excitement – Even Love
Researchers at Stanford’s Financial Fraud Research Center have found that fraudsters trick their victims by carefully creating a state of excitement that reduces clear thinking . In their excited state, victims of all ages, education levels and economic backgrounds can fall prey to email scams. Here are a few examples:
Federal Bureau of Impersonation
We have logged your IP-address on more than 30 illegal Websites.
Important: Please answer our questions! The list of questions are attached.
Federal Bureau of Investigation-FBI-
Who, me? Illegal websites? Impossible! Let me just open this attachment to find out wha—Boom! Next thing you know you’ve been duped. As your computer rapidly downloads a dangerous variant of the w/32 sober virus you’re left helplessly wishing that you’d opted to redeem your “$100 Amazon Gift Card” instead.
Soon your computer will be locked and you will be prompted to pay a $300 fine in return for access to your computer once again. This may go without saying, but—do not pay—as your hackers will not let you off the hook that easily.
As evidenced by FBI.gov this very scam was problematic enough to warrant an official statement, as well as official tips on safe Internet practices. Luckily, this was in 2005, so hopefully web surfers have learned a thing or two since their bout of reckless clicking.
From Lawyer to Pauper
So you’re a hungry lawyer and you want new clients, eh? Well, look here! This eager foreign fellow is looking to collect money from his legal settlement. A few extra bucks sure would help pay off all those student loans… You’ve got everything you need: insurance paperwork, phone numbers, and all of the accompanying documents—heck! He was even nice enough to mail the settlement check to you.
All you have to do is deposit the check and wire your client back the difference. Done. There’s just one hitch—your bank didn’t catch the doctored check in time, and you’ve already wired a fraudster $182,000.
According to Louis Di Rienzo, head of a cross-border mail fraud team in Harrisburg, PA, approximately 70 million dollars had been absconded from law firms using this very scam at the time of his interview in 2012.
The Wall Street Journal reports that a Nigerian national, Emmanuel Ekhator, may be responsible for half of that total.
And you thought lawyers were too sharp to be duped.
[contextly_auto_sidebar id=”xBLXpLQdePa3nv5noRlBFEGKECFDXe3C”]A Friend In Need is a Scam Indeed
How are you doing? Hope all is well with you and everybody?
I am sorry I didn’t inform you about my traveling to England for a business trip and right now, i am stranded here and need to get back to Australia without delay.
I need a favor from you because I was robbed on my way back to my hotel suite’
The robbers carted away with my bag containing my wallet, phone, flight ticket and other valuables.
I will like you to lend me the sum of $3,500 US Dollars or any amount you can afford as half bread is better than none so that i can sort out my hotel bills and get myself back to Australia.
Spoiler alert: the writer of this email is not in fact your friend, nor is he stranded. As you might have surmised the author is indeed another internet scammer—one who’s out to make a quick buck off of your blind and virtuous propensity for generosity. Shame on you, lazy schemer.
According to the Internet Crime Report in 2013 $781,841,611 was stolen through cybercrime last year, so can you really blame a guy for trying?
An Unnatural Disaster
Quite possibly the most dastardly of all scams on the list is the fraudulent natural disaster relief fund. In this scheme a scammer poses as a charitable organization looking for donations to (Insert relief fund here)
Though your intentions may be in the right place, your money will not be. You’re better off sticking to the big names like Red Cross, and FEMA when it comes to Internet philanthropy. Sometimes even the best intentions can go awry when wiring money online.
Avoiding Email Scams
Stanford’s financial fraud researchers suggest that we all step back and get advice from others when an offer looks too good to be true.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission lists scammers tricks to steal your heart and money,
The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) lists recently reported and emerging Internet scams including email scams.