About "Should" and Mental Health
In the interests of my continuing mental health, I've had to banish a few words and phrases from my vocabulary. One of them is "should".
"Should" is a word which has disappointment built-in from the start. It's a word used to talk about ideal situations, ideal results, ideal worlds. As such, to someone like me with an anxiety disorder, it's essentially poison for the psyche. Because, you see, one of the things at the core of any anxiety disorder is this: we want the world to be perfect. Perfection implies control.
So to someone with an anxiety disorder (and this also includes the vast majority of people with depression, since the two conditions tend to be co-morbid to an astounding degree) a "should" is not a vague ideal to be used as a general directional indicator. Instead, it is a definite goal, which needs to be achieved (in order that the world be perfect). So phrases like "you should know better" or "you should be able to do better than that" or "I shouldn't need to tell you" and so on aren't just expressions of regret for one single instance - they are clear indicators that we have failed on a comprehensive level to achieve the goals set for us. The world is imperfect and it's All Our Fault.
As you can guess, that kind of feeling doesn't do much for anyone's anxiety levels.
Then there's the other kind of "should" - the ones we tell ourselves, the ones which come with the invisible tag of "but I won't". "I should stay on this diet... but I won't". "I should Clean All The Things... but I won't". "I should do this disagreeable task... but I'm not gonna!". Again, not only is the world imperfect, and not only is this All Our Fault, but we're also unable to even rely on ourselves to do things. How hopeless are we?
(Something else which doesn't do much for anyone's anxiety levels).
However, banishing "should" (and its close cousin, "ought to") from your mental vocabulary is a hard thing to do at times. For a start, there's all the externally imposed "shoulds" - the expectations of parents, partners, friends, children, teachers, employers, co-workers, advertisers, marketers, manufacturers and so on. ("You should buy $PRODUCTNAME!") Plus there's all the internal ones, yelled at us by our jerk!brains on constant loop - including the ones which come up as part of the memory tapes bringing up old humiliations to dance on the stage of the Grand Olde Embarrassing Recollection to remind us of what we "should" and "shouldn't" be doing, or have done.
What's the solution to all of this? Well, the one which worked for me was basically stepping back from what I "should" be doing, and asking myself "what, realistically, can I do?" This one works particularly well for the memory tapes. Asking myself "okay, what am I able to do about this problem/issue, right here, right now?" tends to make the tapes suddenly grind to a glitching halt - because usually the answer is "nothing". I can't fix past mistakes from the present. I can make an effort to alter future behaviour, but other than that? There is literally nothing I can do.
This works well for other people's expectations of you as well. I have a lovely little icon (created by Copperbadge a while ago) which reads "Impossibility established early takes the sting out of the rest of the obstacles". If other people want you to do something, if they think you "should" be able to do it, ask yourself: "can I do this?" Are you physically, socially, mentally capable of performing the task they're asking? (This includes such things as "do I have the skills needed?", "do I have the available spare capacity?", "do I have the available spare time?" and, of course, "do I actually want to do this?"). If the answer is "yes", then perform the task. If the answer is "no", then tell them so - give reasons if the person asking is a reasonable person (unreasonable people don't deserve reasons for your answers, because unreasonable people can't or won't be reasoned with).
By bringing things back from the ideal world of "should" to the actual world of "can I, am I, do I, is this" you wind up being a lot more realistic about your own capabilities, and a lot less prone to stressing yourself out over things which are outside your own control.
 You'll note one of the apparent "goals" being set there is fully functional human telepathy. Nobody said the goals of a "should" were ever either realistic or achievable.
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Employment Scammer: "Alex Brook", Brook Construction Company
Apparently-From: Alex Brook (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject Line: [Bulk] Personal Assistant Needed (part time job)
Addressed to me: No
( Scam body under fold )
This is a scam.
Firstly: "Brook Construction Company" doesn't appear to exist - there's quite a few entries in Google for "Brooks Construction Company" in the USA (all in Indiana, according to the map on Google), and one entry for Brook Construction (no "company") in Canada (Newfoundland and Labrador regions).
Secondly: The role of PA is not usually a "work from home" role - or at least, not "work from your own home". "Work from the boss's home", yeah, sure I can see that happening, but it's more likely to be an in-office role. Which means even if this were legit, and even if this were a genuine offer, you'd need to know where the company is based in order to take on the job. (At the very least, you'd need to know the time zone the company is based in - if this were genuinely a US company, as someone in zone GMT+8, I'd need to be working some very unusual hours indeed in order to hold down the job).
Thirdly: If this were a legitimate job offer, it would be on a legitimate job search website. It would not be sent out as a bulk email to random people on a spam mailing list. As always, in situations where economies have contracted and unemployment is high, the power is on the side of the employer - candidates go looking for them, they don't come looking for you unless you have some VERY specialised skill sets, or unless they know you personally and are aware you'd be a good fit.
Legitimate offers of employment generally come from people who have interviewed you - legitimate employers want to make sure you'd be a good fit in their corporate culture, and for a job such as Personal Assistant, there's the need to ensure you're not going to be a poor fit with that particular boss, too.
Fourthly: For a job opportunity, there's remarkably little information about what you're going to be required to do, and how many hours a week you're going to be required to do it. The weekly salary of $350 translates to $8.75 per hour for a standard 40 hour work week (which is, I think, slightly above US minimum wage, but well below the minimum wage here in Australia). So you'd need to know how many hours per week you're expected to work for that $350.
They also don't ask for any skills, and don't ask you to send in a resume. Why, it's almost as though they aren't interested in your skills at all. Which means there must be something else they're after.
Finally: The email addresses don't match up to the offer. The email address this is apparently from is the domain for a psychologist in Germany (and I suspect she's more than a little annoyed about having her email hijacked by spammers). The reply-to address is an AOL throw-away address. If you're dealing with a company large enough for the CEO to need a personal assistant (and let's be honest - the CEO's personal assistant would be a full-time role, not a part-time one) then you'd also expect to be dealing with a company large enough to handle having its own web presence, internal email, and domain.
Don't respond, don't apply, and don't expect to be seeing that $350 per week, either.
(I find with these sorts of things it helps to think of any monetary amounts as the scammer's minimum goal).
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(Yet) Another Mass Shooting in the USA
I'm not going to go into huge detail about this one (save to note that so far this year, there have been more mass shootings in the USA than there have been days in the year). Instead, I'm going to concentrate on some things which could be tried to stop these things from happening (or at least slow down the rate of them) without necessarily altering gun laws.
( Detail under fold )
Now, none of these three things is going to drastically drop the number of mass shootings immediately. If you want an immediate impact on the number of mass shootings in the USA, then it's going to have to be done through gun control laws, just the same as everywhere else on the planet. But in the medium-to-long term, and particularly if you have the NRA and their paid-up politicians remaining as stubborn as ever on the issue, then these measures will help.
So start speaking to the media firms. Start speaking to your political candidates. Start demanding change.
Ignore the idiots who say "it's too soon" - as I pointed out above, you're currently averaging better than 1 mass shooting per day. How many do there need to be before things change? Ignore the fools who accuse you of "politicising the issue. Shootings like this are essentially about power - which means they're political from the get-go. The choice to do something about preventing them is a political choice, I'll grant you - but so is the choice not to.
It's up to the people of the USA to make it clear they don't want to see this happening. And the best way to start is by denying these little dickweasels who want to exhibit their sense of entitlement, their sense of personal power, the attention that they so desperately crave.
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"Peeple for People" - Just When You Thought High School was Safely Behind You
The bits of Twitter I follow have been exploding in about twenty-seven different directions regarding "Peeple for People".
This article pretty much sums up what it's all about:
"Yelp for People" is pretty much the elevator pitch version of the idea. According to their FAQs, they largely envision it being used by folks to be all positive and caring and nice about people they know (in the same way Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are at present). Which, I think, says it all.
Essentially, this is how it would work - someone wants to 'review' you, and so long as they fulfil the conditions, they can do so. What kinds of conditions? They have to be over twenty-one, and have a Facebook account. They need to know your name, the city you live in, and your phone number (or know a phone number they can say is yours). Then they can create a profile for you, if you don't already have one, and publish 'reviews' of you. If someone posts a negative review of you, that review will get texted to your phone number (or to the phone number Peeple has for you) and the onus is on you to respond to that reviewer within forty-eight hours and see whether you can "change a negative to a positive".
(Those of you who are busy attempting to beat yourselves unconscious by head!desk-ing, I sympathise.)
Even getting off the internet altogether won't protect you from these negative reviews.
(Meanwhile, the people behind the app started the day with a locked Twitter account - which they've since unlocked to a degree; have taken steps toward getting a parody account mocking them on Twitter deleted; and are said to be deleting non-positive comments on their Facebook accounts. Nice for some, clearly.)
The system as it is described at present is wide open to abuse by stalkers, abusers, online hate mobs or just people who are feeling malicious on a particular day. It's all the worst possible social aspects of high school, pulled onto the internet and made international.
You can read their version of the story here:
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So, We Have a New Prime Minister
As many of you will know, Malcolm Turnbull did the people of Australia (as well as his own ego) a profound service yesterday by successfully challenging Tony Abbott for the leadership of the Liberal Party. He's now the Prime Minister designate, and the country is still a little giddy with relief (or at least, this particular bit of it is).
Some brief explanation for those who aren't aware how a parliamentary system works. Despite what Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey were saying yesterday in their press conferences, the role of Prime Minister is not a "gift" of the Australian people. In fact, constitutionally speaking, the role of Prime Minister is actually a very real "gift" of the Governor-General, in that if you read the strict letter of the constitution the GG gets to choose the inhabitant of the role without reference to any external forces whatsoever. By convention, however, the Governor-General usually gives the role to the parliamentary leader of the political party with the functional majority in the Federal House of Representatives. The Australian people, in fact, have their role in the process cease entirely once they've elected their local members of the House of Representatives.
Tony Abbott may have said he was elected by the Australian people. This was an exaggeration at best, since the only people in Australia who had a direct hand in his election are the voters for the House of Representatives seat of Warringah (in Sydney), many of whom would probably vote in a dead emu should one be stood as a candidate by the Liberal Party, and the members of the Parliamentary Liberal Party during a leadership ballot back in December 2009 (by one vote).
In the vote last night, Malcolm Turnbull won the leadership of the Liberal Party by a comfortable 10 vote margin (54 votes to 44) and should therefore be reasonably safe from predation within his own party. The Nationals will probably fall into line (since their alternative is parliamentary irrelevance) and agree to remain in the Coalition, which means the Liberal/National coalition government retains a functional majority in the House of Representatives, and Malcolm Turnbull becomes the Prime Minister of Australia (and about our fourth one in a two year period... it's been a good time for political journalists).
Tony Abbott is no longer Prime Minister, and while he still holds the office of Minister for the status of Women (unfortunately) until at least the end of the week - Mr Turnbull has said he's not going to be re-shuffling ministries until the parliamentary week is over - he probably isn't likely to get a major ministry in the new cabinet. He remains the member for Warringah, unless he chooses to resign from that role and precipitate another by-election (or unless the Warringah branch of the Liberals get polling results which indicate the aforementioned dead emu will do better).
Policy-wise, Mr Turnbull has indicated his government is going to be very much "meet the new boss, same as the old boss", which is disappointing, but only to be expected at this stage. However, his presence at the helm rather than Tony Abbott's has immediately boosted the Liberal Party's chances of being re-elected at the next federal election (which is still scheduled for late 2016), particularly if their major rivals, the Australian Labor Party fail to either pull a leadership re-shuffle of their own (the current leader, Bill Shorten, has all the personality and political forcefulness of damp newspaper; he might have won on a platform of "at least I'm not Tony Abbott", but only if he were the only one occupying that particular platform) or come up with some policy points which demonstrate an appreciable difference from the Coalition. Given the chances of a leadership re-shuffle in the ALP are currently minimal (the last-PM-but-one, Kevin Rudd, put some nice little traps in place to make re-shuffling the ALP leadership a lot harder than it used to be) it's looking at this point like we can expect to see the Liberals re-elected at the 2016 elections (and certainly we're more likely to see a comfortable win for the Liberals in this weekend's by-election in the seat of Canning).
 This has been tried precisely once in the history of Australia as a nation. Google "Whitlam dismissal" for an explanation of what happened.
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What Border Force did Wrong on Friday.
( Very long Australian political rant below the fold )
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Brief Personal Update
TW: unemployment, suicidal thoughts, mental illness
So, Himself got the sack on Monday for being off sick too often (about four weeks over the course of about ten months), but more realistically he got the sack because his boss didn't want to keep employing another technical person now the boss's honeymoon is over. We are now back to the Centrelink/Job Nyetwork "Dance of the Deserving Poor", which is a variation on the Masochism Tango where you scourge yourself for the entertainment of public servants who aren't interested in watching.
I am, quite predictably, not reacting to this well. As in, I'm melting down all over the place. Have an appointment with my doctor today to get a medical certificate for the depression (which is flaring up to the point where I've spent most of the past two days defaulting to thinking very positive thoughts about going out and playing in the traffic) and I'll be hoping to be able to head back to the last Employment Services Provider I was seeing, since I got accustomed to their particular brand of useless and I figure they'd be able to dig the file out of storage.
I'd be happier, I think, if they'd just acknowledge it is literally less likely for me to get a job than it is for me to win Lotto (1 in 85 chance of winning something in lotto, if you buy a ticket; by contrast, I applied for over 100 jobs during the course of 2014 without so much as a preliminary interview resulting) and that the only reason I'm sending out the applications in the first place is because Centrelink demands it. Your tax dollars at work, making work for HR types and recruiting agencies.
I'm going to try and keep these whiny posts to a minimum, because I know people aren't really all that interested.
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New Meta-fic up on AO3
I wrote this a while ago, but haven't posted it before now.
A Possible History for the MCU Obadiah Stane
All feedback greatly appreciated. It's meta-fic - a sort of fictional possible history of how things happened and what could have led to various events and why.
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Scam Warning: Loyal Partner Cargo Service Ltd
Okay, this is a scam along the same lines as good old Global Area Gargo. It comes in a couple of different variants, so I've included both the ones I've received here.
( Scam body 1 under fold )
( Scam body 2 under fold )
Copy 1 -
Apparently from: Lionel Davidson (email@example.com)
Subject: [Bulk] Job offer - (99939366930)
Reply-To: Lionel Davidson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Addressed to me: No
Copy 2 -
Apparently from: Driscoll Hammond (email@example.com)
Subject: Current Open Position - (89469503769)
Reply-To: Driscoll Hammond (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Addressed to me: No (but addressed to the same address as copy 3)
Copy 3 -
Apparently from: Autumn Price (email@example.com)
Subject: [Bulk] Fresh job / (083201609023)
Reply-To: Autumn Price (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Addressed to me: No (but addressed to the same address as copy 2)
So, what are the scam flags?
1) Contact out of the blue with what looks to be a job ad. As always, remember in an economy where the rate of unemployment is higher than 0%, an employer doesn't have to go looking for new staff in this manner. Posting an ad on a job board will usually net them more than enough candidates to be going on with. Here in Australia, the unemployment rate is up over 6%, and has been for most of the past three years.
2) Getting three of these in the one batch of email is a pretty big hint there's something up - someone wants a bite, and they're willing to try and stun people into submission in order to get it.
3) For a job ad, these are somewhat lacking in details - no list of what they're looking for, no list of duties, no details about the rate of pay they're offering, no information about anything.
4) A quick google search indicates the company apparently doesn't exist. There's a "Loyal cargo & Export" based in South Africa, but "Loyal Partner Cargo Service" doesn't show up anywhere.
5) Gmail throwaway reply-to addresses are always a big hint. Registering a company domain doesn't cost much; neither does getting it hosted somewhere. It looks a lot more professional than a throw-away gmail address.
As always - don't respond, and if you must, don't send them any money.
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New Fic up on AO3
So I was digging through my WIP files, and discovered this one sitting in there, all complete and ready to post.
Nesa Conway's Notes for New Staff.
Set in the Final Fantasy VII world, roughly at the time of Crisis Core. Part of my Nesa-verse. Because every workplace has its little quirks and oddities, and sometimes it helps to have these written down.
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Scam Alert - Abandoned Package
Apparently-From: Allen Larged (email@example.com)
Subject: [Bulk] Your Abandoned Package For Delivery
Addressed To: unknown
( Scam text below )
Okay, first and most obvious scam flag flying here: you're being asked to partake in a crime (namely, theft). You're stealing not only from this anonymous diplomat, but also the US Treasury (who do tend to be a tad tetchy and unreasonable about such things), and probably also from the citizens of the country the diplomat hailed from. A complete stranger who asks you to participate in a crime on first introduction does not necessarily have your best interests at heart.
Of course, this is assuming the box and/or the money exist in the first place, which, of course, they don't. If you google on the search string "abandoned package scam" you'll find lots of copies of the above email, listing just about every airport in the USA.
Even if the box did exist, I'd be strongly advising you to first check the contents. It will do you absolutely no good at all to pay $3700 USD to receive a 110kg box of shredded paper. Or a box full of a currency which is defunct (such as Zimbabwean dollars - the Zimbabwean government phased out their currency starting in 2009 - they're currently buying back the currency until 30 September this year) or practically worthless (Iranian rials, Vietnamese dong, etc).
Basically, this is a variation on the good old "advanced fee fraud" or "Spanish prisoner" trick. As the Spanish Prisoner, this con has been around since the sixteenth century, so it certainly has legs. It's based on essentially getting someone to pay serious money today in the hope of reward tomorrow.
As always, the main thing you need to beat the scammer is a sense of proportion and hubris - in this case, why would some diplomat from who-knows-where in Africa have MY name as the consignee for a box full of money? Other questions you might want to ask include: if this thing had my details as a consignee, why has it been sitting around in a warehouse in $US_STATE for ages, apparently abandoned? Why wasn't it just forwarded on to me directly on a cash-on-delivery basis? Surely the airport actually needs the space a 110kg package would be occupying. How does this person know the box contains money? (did they already open it? If so, why shouldn't I presume they helped themselves to their 30% share of the proceeds straight up?). This story has plot holes galore - going through and spotting them is a good education in the process of narrative creation.
Either way, it's a scam. Don't contact the person back, don't send them your details, and for heaven's sake, don't send them any money.
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Scam Alert: "Mystery Shopper" job offer - MH Recruitment
Apparently-From: Secret Shopper[unknown unicode character] (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: [Bulk] **JOB APPLICATION: BECOME A MYSTERY SHOPPER®2015**
Addressed To: [blank]
( Scam body below )
This one actually overlaps both categories of scam I've been alerting people about - it's a bogus "employment" offer, and a cover for an attempt at advance fee fraud. So, time to see which scam flags it's flying.
1) Contact offering unskilled "employment" out of nowhere, completely unsolicited. As I've said repeatedly in the employment scam posts in the past, in a declining economy (which is what most Western countries are experiencing at present) where unemployment is high, employers do not have to solicit candidates for unskilled roles - they're more likely to be turning them away in droves. Therefore anyone offering you one of those out of the blue in these circumstances is, at the very least, highly dodgy.
2) Offer of an immediate start with no interview. Most legitimate employers will at least want to meet up with you in person before they offer you the contract, because they're looking to keep you on for at least the short term, and they need you to be able to work with the rest of their team.
3) Apparently corporate personage emailing you with a gmail throw-away reply-to address. This is dodgy as well - if this person is working for a company, why aren't they emailing us from their corporate address and getting us to send our replies to that corporate address? The address at weather3000.com is owned by the Aerospace & Marine International Corporation, based in California, which you'll note isn't mentioned anywhere in the text of the email. Either they've hijacked the email server to send from, or we're looking at someone trying to set up a scam using their employer's resources... no matter which way you slice it, this doesn't send positive messages about their trustworthiness.
4) Googling the search string "MH Recruitment secret shopper" gives you a page of warnings about this being a scam. This is usually a pretty big hint.
As always, best policy is to delete these without replying to them.
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Scam Alert - 419 Type - "Mr Warren Buffett Billionaire investor"
Apparently-From: Mr Warren Buffett (email@example.com)
Subject: [Bulk] DONATION FOR YOU!!!!
Addressed To: [Blank]
( Scam body under the fold )
I think this one wins points for chutzpah. The article linked in the scam is actually genuine, and talks about how Warren Buffett and a number of other very rich investors do actually give a lot of money away to charity (Warren Buffett being among the rare breed of billionaires who apparently feels he has enough money now, thank you). So that's the one thing in the whole darn rigmarole which is actually accurate.
The rest is bullshit. There is no $5 million US waiting for you. If you spend approximately 10 seconds googling Warren Buffett and reading up his wikipedia article, you will discover the money he is giving away is mostly being distributed via the Gates Foundation - not through random emails to random schlubs on the internet. Oh, and as at 2013, he'd sent approximately one email in his life. Unless he's really caught on fast, I doubt he's the one behind these particular letters.
(If he was, he's of the generation which would consider it only polite to send a letter which was correctly punctuated, grammatically accurate, and proofread.)
I rather doubt someone like Warren Buffett would be using a gmail throw-away address, either. He's much more likely to be using a corporate address through his company, Bershire Hathaway.
So, 10 points to the scammer for trying, minus several million (let's say 5 million, shall we?) for actual effect.
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Scam Alert, 419 Type - Overseas Credit Commission, Kerry Lambert
Apparently-From: Kerry Lambert (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: [Bulk] Overseas Credit Commission (OCC) - Brussels
Addressed to: Recipients (email@example.com)
( Scam body under fold )
I'm not going to bother listing the scam flags for this one - they should be clear enough by now. If you want to learn more about this particular scam, check out http://www.419scam.org/emails/2010-10/28/00042205.2.htm. They've written up a copy from 2010.
Yes, scams get recycled.
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Scam Alert - 419 type - International Monetary Fund, Hon John Obi
Apparently-from: Foreign Operations (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: [Bulk] HELLO
To: (left blank)
( Read more... )
As always, they're trying to hook you through your greed, and your apparent willingness to do something unethical (claim unclaimed funds you probably don't have a right to). This last is actually a pretty clear marker for scams - if someone you've never come across before is trying to make you do something which isn't morally or ethically right, they probably don't have your best interests at heart.
(There's also the consideration that if you've never done anything criminal before, the people who are trying to lure you into trying to flim-flam them are almost certainly more experienced in the matter than you are, and better able to spot what you're doing. For them it's the equivalent of watching a toddler trying to catch a seagull).
1) Why is the International Monetary Fund contacting a suburban housewife in Western Australia offering an unclaimed fund of $5 million US dollars?
2) Why is a big organisation like the International Monetary Fund sending out emails from a gmail.com throw-away address?
3) Why, if they're contacting me to give this money away, do they need me to supply all these identification details?
4) Why, if they have $5 million to give away, aren't they willing to spend a few hundred of it on a decent proof reader and secretarial services?
Don't reply, don't give your details, and don't believe in the money. It doesn't exist.
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Scam Alert, 419 type - United Nations, Gary Walker, Weathersby Private Bank
Apparently-From: UNITED NATIONS (email@example.com)
Subject: [Bulk] RE: PAYMENT UPDATE 2015
Addressed to: unknown, probably not just me.
( Scam body under fold )
As always, these things use your greed to try and hook you. After all, there's a fun of $8.3 million at stake here... or rather, there isn't. There is, however, a wonderful opportunity to clean out your own bank accounts attempting to get hold of it.
So, scam flags flying:
1) Appears out of the blue, and implies it's the final piece of a long chain of correspondence which has just mysteriously gone astray and landed in my inbox. No addressee details, no information about who the mail is addressed to. So there's the implication that if you accept their offer and reply to the mail, you're defrauding them. Remember the old grifter adage: "You can't bilk an honest man", and avoid anything which starts out by attempting to lure you into unethical behaviour.
2) Demanding details from me (details which can be used to steal my identity, or to add my name, address, email number, phone number, fax and mobile details to a sucker list and set me up for further scams).
3) Apparently large organisations (the United Nations, a private bank in the UK) using hotmail.com and gmail.com throw-away addresses as contacts rather than their own private domains.
4) This one is incredibly cagey about what the money is intended to be - is it a contract payment, an award for damages, a prize in a lottery, or what? (Well, it doesn't really matter, since the money doesn't exist in the first place).
As always, delete and don't reply. If you have replied... well, at the very least you're probably added to someone's "sucker list", and you're going to see a lot more of these. Have a word with your bank and get them to lock down your bank account for a bit, so no unauthorised transactions go through, and see about getting your phone and mobile numbers put on a do-not-call list.
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Scam Alert - Dr David Cole, William A Carpenter
Apparently-From: Dr David Cole (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: [Bulk] REPLY AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
Addressed to: undisclosed-recipients:;
( Scam body below )
Okay, so for a half share in 36.5 million US dollars, I'm expected to get into contact with Dr David Cole, and help him defraud his employer. If your scam alarm isn't going off loudly enough to deafen you on hearing something like that, you're probably precisely the sort of person this scammer is looking for!
Scam flags flying:
1) Contact out of the blue from someone I don't know who expects me to do something unlikely. I've never heard of Dr Cole before (so why should I trust him?), and more importantly, out of over seven billion people in the world, why on earth would he pick me, a suburban housewife in Western Australia, who he has never met before and knows nothing about, in order to help him with a criminal enterprise which requires him to trust me utterly?
2) Yes, this would be a criminal enterprise if it were real. You'd be planning to defraud a bank (Barclays Bank PLC), the government of the United Kingdom (where Barclays Bank is based), and the actual relatives of William A Carpenter. Nice people don't ask casual acquaintances to participate in major fraud as their first action.
3) The manner and place of your death does not determine whether or not you died intestate - what determines whether you died intestate is whether or not you have a known and valid will (as in "last will and testament") at the time of your death.
From this point, if their mark bites, the scam can go in any number of directions, depending on what the scammer is chasing. If they're after money, they'll start in on either advanced fee fraud by asking you to supply funds toward administrative costs, bribes and so on; or alternatively they can just go for straight blackmail - by responding, you're agreeing to participate in a fraud, after all (and this opens you up to the prospect of imprisonment), and presumably you'll pay money to stay out of prison. If they're after identity details, they'll ask for things like bank account numbers and other identifying information, so they can steal your identity (and probably all the cash from your bank account while they're at it).
As always, the trick to avoiding these is fairly straightforward: keep a sense of perspective, and don't be blinded by greed. If something seems too good to be true, it usually is. As a common-sense rule, someone planning a complicated fraud will tend to stick with people they know and can trust not to hand them over to the police (for whatever reason). They're not going to pick complete strangers at random, not knowing the first thing about their ethics.
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Potential Scam/Virus Vector - MailerUpgrade.Moonfruit.Com
Subject: Attention: E-mail User
Addressed to Me: Possibly ("To:" is "undisclosed-recipients:;")
( Scam content under fold )
I'm not sure what the heck is up with this one. I suspect the idea is you go to the address listed, and immediately start getting targeted by loads of viruses, or by demands for money to "upgrade" your account. Since I don't have an account with moonfruit.com, and I certainly don't have an email account with any of the other domains listed, I haven't gone to look at it.
Mind you, a bit of fast googling shows Moonfruit is basically a free website vendor based in the UK, which has its own "build-your-own-website" service. So I suspect what we're looking at here is someone using a free web service in an effort to either run a scam, or spread a virus or target machines for a botnet or whatever.
If you've got one of these (and this one showed up in my actual inbox, rather than being bounced into the bulk mail section) it's probably best to ignore it. While I'm not sure what kind of scam the sender may be running (and I don't particularly care to find out) anything which comes out of the blue like this from someone I've never heard of isn't to be trusted anyway.
(I tend to collect most of my email via POP, which means I download it onto my computer at home and remove it from the account provider's server, so I know my main email account is highly unlikely to be running out of quota.)
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Potential Scam: Mr Yang, Bank of China
Apparently-From: M.H. (email@example.com)
Subject: [Bulk] RE : Very Important Information
Addressed to Me: yes
( Scam content under fold )
I'm listing this one as a potential scam because of the lack of details in there, and because it's appearing out of the blue. Essentially, this one is chumming the waters, fishing for email addresses where someone is "listening" and hopefully curious about the proposal being hinted at. If you reply, your email address is going to be sold on as a "valid" email address, or even better still, as an email address where this sort of thing is read, believed, and followed up on. (Congratulations! You will have just gained the reputation of being a good target for scammers.)
Me, I'm mostly curious why the Business Relationship Manager for the Bank of China in Hong Kong's investments unit would be contacting a suburban housewife in Australia via bulk email, and why the return address I'm supposed to reply to them at is a gmail throw-away address. But I can live without those particular curiosities being satisfied. I suspect the prospect involved would be one of those intriguing offers to have my bank account hoovered out, to do work laundering money for criminal interests, or have my identity stolen, and I'm not overly interested in any of those options. As always, the best tools for resisting scammers are a sense of perspective (an awareness of your place in the scheme of things - why would they be contacting me about this rather than someone else?) and a sceptical mindset.
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419 Scam - National Lottery Winner
Apparently-From: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com)
Subject Line: [Bulk] National Lottery Winner!
Addressed to me: No.
( Scam text under fold )
I've apparently won the UK National Lottery! This is something of a surprise to me, particularly since I've never purchased a ticket in same. Scam flag number one.
A quick google on the UK National Lottery reveals another interesting piece of information - their registered office is "Camelot UK Lotteries Limited, Registered office: Tolpits Lane, Watford, Herts WD18 9RN". Not Liverpool as listed above. Their contact addresses are listed (on their "contact us" page) as:
For general enquiries, write to us at:
The National Lottery
PO Box 251
For questions about lost, stolen or destroyed tickets or a prize payout, write to us at:
The National Lottery
PO Box 287
Scam flag two.
Another quick gander at the National Lottery site Service Guide
reveals the following information:
Can I play from overseas?
No, you must be physically located in the UK or Isle of Man when buying a National Lottery game online or when setting up or amending a Direct Debit (including adding or deleting play slips and changing your payment details).
Scam flag three.
Oh, and I'm being told my email was specially selected for this prize, but the email I received about it wasn't addressed to me in the first place
. Scam flag four.
So, looks like I haven't won the lottery after all. So, off that one goes into the bit bucket.
My advice to everyone getting these sorts of things: remember, the cardinal rule with any sort of lottery is you have to have a ticket to be eligible to win
. If you don't remember buying a ticket, and you don't have a ticket actually in your possession, you almost certainly haven't won a prize.This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/56081.html. Please comment there using OpenID.