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Scam Alert - 419 Type - Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, Nana Owusu Addo

From: Nana Owusu Addo (admin@GOODONATES.COM)
Subject: [Bulk] IT MIGHT INTEREST YOU...
Addressed to: Recipients (admin@GOODONATES.COM)

Scam body below fold )

Another invitation to commit fraud from complete strangers. How wonderful.

The most obvious plot hole in this whole thing is the whole "as civil servants, we are forbidden to operate a foreign account" - I suspect if they look closely at their contracts, they'll also find as civil servants they're forbidden to defraud the taxpayers of Ghana. This doesn't appear to be stopping them from doing so.

As always, it's a scam, a fraud, and if you let these people have access to your bank account, they'll either a) use it as an invitation to vaccuum all the money out of it; or b) ask you to forward "small sums" to be used to pay administration fees, bank charges, etc etc etc. I'd be suspecting the first, since their breakdown of the "payout" involves a certain amount put aside to cover costs (although I still wouldn't rule out the second, since scammers gonna scam). Asking for three working weeks (15 working days) is just giving them lots of time to get away after they've finished extracting the money from your bank account(s).

If you are going to succumb to this damn silly fraud, might I suggest going to a bank you don't usually do business with, opening a throw-away account with a balance of maybe $10, and giving those details to the scammers? That way, if they ARE up to no good (and let's be realistic here - anyone who asks you on no acquaintance whatsoever to help them commit massive fraud against the people of their own country isn't really on the side of the angels) the most you're going to be out is the $10 you've sacrificed on the throw-away account.

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Current Mood: irritable irritable
Scam Alert - 419 "Abandoned Package" scam - Mr James Dee, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport A

From: Mr James Dee (
Addressed to me: No

Scam body under fold )

As with the previous example of this particular genre, I'll note this even at its most straightforward, this email contains an invitation to commit a crime (namely, bribery of an official - Mr Dee is asking for a share of the money in order to "assist" you. Presumably if you don't, he'll find a few dozen obstacles to place in your way). Nice people don't generally ask you to do things on first acquaintance that could result in jail time.

There are still all the same plot-holes in the story as there were in the previous example - why would a UN diplomat based in the UK be sending large sums of money to an insignificant housewife in Australia? Why, if the consignment note has my name and details on it, was the package not just forwarded to me C.O.D? Why has this been shipped from JFK airport in New York to an airport warehouse in Atlanta, for crying out loud? And given Mr Dee apparently knows the contents of the containers aren't what's on the declaration label, how do I know he hasn't already gone in there and taken what he considers to be "his share" of the money before even contacting me? (Oh, and why, if he's working for a government organisation, is he trying to get me to reply to him via a throw-away gmail address?)

The containers don't exist (or if they do, they're filled with blank paper, old newsprint, or at best Monopoly money). Don't send this scammer any of your details, or any of your money.

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Current Mood: apathetic apathetic
Scam - 419 Type - "Mrs Connie Dutton"

My junk mail folder is filling up with scams again. Oh darn, I shall just have to start writing about them once more.

Oh the hardship.

Today's candidate is a pretty bog-standard 419 scam.

Subject: [Bulk] Hoping to hearing from you soon
Addressed to me: Nope!

Scam content under fold )

Okay, scam markers:

1) Long, involved sob story, written in ungrammatical English, and poorly proof-read.

2) Large sum of money (although in these days of low inflation and low investment returns, eight million is pretty small beer).

3) If this woman is such a devoted Christian, why isn't she giving the money to her church? Doesn't she trust her pastor? Why isn't she donating the money (off her own bat) to the various charities which already exist now to serve the causes she's listing? Why isn't she taking this through a professional financial planner or investment adviser, rather than a random chump on the internet?

4) Different addresses in the reply-to field of the sent email, and the body text.

The most sensible option is not to reply to these people at all. This email is basically setting up the sucker for the next move in several con games - and the most likely is the advance fee fraud, where you'll be asked to send an "administration fee" to the scammer (just so they can pass it on to their bank, to get the money to you, you understand). Of course, this first fee won't be enough, and you'll have to send more money to the scammer to cover other fees and charges; and of course, "Mrs Dutton" will probably wind up needing help with her medical costs, because she won't have planned for those; then there's the inevitable point in the whole thing where she dies, and you'll need to pay "funeral expenses" or "death duties" on the money you still won't have received...

As always, these things are designed to hook you through a combination of greed and arrogance. The way to win is not to play. So, don't reply, and pass the message about it being a scam on to all your friends.

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Current Mood: indescribable indescribable
Scam Alert - Abandoned Package

Apparently-From: Allen Larged (
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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Current Mood: amused amused
Scam Alert: "Mystery Shopper" job offer - MH Recruitment

Apparently-From: Secret Shopper[unknown unicode character] (
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 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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Current Mood: cold cold
Scam Alert - 419 Type - "Mr Warren Buffett Billionaire investor"

Apparently-From: Mr Warren Buffett (
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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Current Mood: amused amused
Scam Alert, 419 Type - Overseas Credit Commission, Kerry Lambert

Apparently-From: Kerry Lambert (
Subject: [Bulk] Overseas Credit Commission (OCC) - Brussels
Addressed to: Recipients (

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 They've written up a copy from 2010.

Yes, scams get recycled.

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Current Mood: unimpressed unimpressed
Scam Alert - 419 type - International Monetary Fund, Hon John Obi

Apparently-from: Foreign Operations (
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).

Scam flags:

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 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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Current Mood: irritated irritated
Scam Alert, 419 type - United Nations, Gary Walker, Weathersby Private Bank

Apparently-From: UNITED NATIONS (
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 and 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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Current Mood: tired tired
Scam Alert - Dr David Cole, William A Carpenter

Apparently-From: Dr David Cole (
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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Current Mood: lethargic lethargic
419 Scam - National Lottery Winner

Apparently-From: (
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
WD18 9BR

For questions about lost, stolen or destroyed tickets or a prize payout, write to us at:

The National Lottery
PO Box 287
WD18 9TT

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.

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Current Mood: cold cold
Potential 419 Scam - Etihad Capital, Paresh Khiara

Apparently-From: MR. Paresh Khiara (
Subject Line: [Bulk] Project Loans - Etihad Capital
Addressed to me: Yes

Scam body below the fold )

This is a sneaky one. A bit of googling shows the firm, Etihad Capital, actually exists - it's apparently a small investment banking firm based in Abu Dhabi. The person apparently writing to you, Paresh Khiara, actually exists.

Here's where it starts getting dodgy: unless Mr Khiara hasn't updated his LinkedIn profile recently, Paresh Khiara doesn't work for Etihad Capital. LinkedIn has him working at Al Mal Capital.

So while the person and the firm both exist, it doesn't seem likely they're both joined at present. This is not only a major scam flag, but also a major fraud flag as well - looks like there's a touch of identity theft happening here as well.

Other scam flags:

* The mail and the people involved say they're being sent from Abu Dhabi. The email addresses, meanwhile, are apparently in Denmark (, Germany (, and the USA ( The two reply email addresses are both throw-away free-mail addresses. If this is being sent from a company based in the UAE, why isn't it using their corporate domain,

* This is clearly a "fishing" letter - it's asking "do you have any projects you want funded?" of just about anyone (after all, I'm not looking for finance for any projects myself, nor have I been in the past few months, or even the past few years). They're either looking for clients (if it actually was a legitimate business) or suckers (which is much more likely).

* They're also asking "do you fancy yourself as a broker for our business?" - which seems an even more dodgy question to be asking of people picked at random off the internet.

* A minor sign, but a significant one - they're purportedly working for a major investment bank, but they can't afford paragraph breaks? Yeah, right.

As always, the best place for all of these is the bit-bucket. Don't reply, even to tell them to take you off their list. If you think Etihad Capital, or Paresh Khiara might be the right people for you to work with, contact them via their LinkedIn pages or in the case of Etihad Capital, their main website. Don't use any of the details from the email to try and get into contact with them.

Footnote: there's some indicators in the text and the labelling of the apparently-from address that make me think there's a certain amount of "sovereign citizen" nonsense involved, too - the specification of and emphasis on the personal pronoun and the punctuation looks a lot like the sort of nonsense people caught up in the "sovereign citizen" scams in the USA use to try and render themselves less liable for their bills and actions. Here's a hint: it doesn't work in the USA, and it probably won't work in whichever country this scammer is sending from either.

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Current Mood: sore sore
Scam - Advance Fee Fraud (419) Type

So I've decided to broaden my horizons a bit by dealing with the other popular type of scam landing in my email box - the "advance fee fraud". These are the ones which involve you being promised this huge sum of money (because Reasons), but if you reply to the email, you'll be asked to forward a bit of money yourself (maybe about $1000) to cover "administration costs" or "access fees" or whatever.

These frauds hope to hook you in using your greed, waving the large sum of money you could get tomorrow under your nose, and making you blind to the amount of money you'll wind up paying out today. The simplest way to deal with them is not to reply to them.

So, with that out of the way, let's look at the actual scam. I'll be putting these under a cut, because they tend to be long-winded. I've added in some comments - the original scam is in italics, while my stuff is in plain text.

Scam below )

As always, the safest thing to do with these sorts of things is delete them on sight.

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Current Mood: tired tired
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