Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Scams and Hoaxes

I really don't want this blog to be about internet security, it's just that right now, it is a big issue. There are a lot of criminals out there trolling for the technically unwary. They have no shame.

I received this e-mail last week:
Subject: I AM A VICTIM.


I write you this mail with sorrow and tears in my eyes. I do not mean to bother you with my problems but I am most disturbed and I have no other choice than to look for help from some one who is compassionate and have the milk of human kindness. I am not also writing to demand for any thing materialistic in whatever form from you, but I am writing to present to you a business proposition, which you shall profit from only if you decide to help me. I am wife to Mr.Samuel Ashaun,a Ghanian and a very successful international businessman, philanthropic, politician and a community deveoper. My late husband was an importer of certain commodities of which he alone has the sole patent right to bring into Ghana. He has traveled far and wide all his life while doing his business. He was also into business collaboration with so many friends all over the world and whatever he lays his hands turns out to be Gold. We (me and my daughters) were quite comfortable when he was alive and we never lacked anything. I am writing you to solicit your assistance because I lost my husband to the Tsunami Disaster that just happened some times back. He was on one of his business trips to Myanmar, in South East Asia when the disaster occurred. Me and the family members were worried when he did not come back as at when due, we sent messages to his business associates abroad but no one answered, we virtually sold everything he owned in an attempt to locate him, we even had to result to borrowing because I do not do anything here, I am just a permanent house wife. When we were not getting any news, we gave up until later when we realized he died in the disaster. Life has not been same for my daughters and me since then. In Africa where I come from, the Male child is regarded as very important while the female is regarded as nothing and less a human being to the male. Since I did not have a male issue for my late husband, his family relatives, kiths and kin has taken over and inherited his things that are left and even driven me and my daughters onto the street with nothing. We are starving and there is no one to help, no shelter and no money or food for us. My daughters has quite school because I cannot pay their school fees. I am now a poor widow. It is so painful to know that the funds being raised to help the victims of the disaster is mainly for the countries affected and not for people with my kind of plight and bad luck. It's so painful to know that no body remembers women from other part of the continent that are made widows by the disaster. I am writing you to help me. Last week, my late husband lawyer came back from abroad with vital information relating to the fact that my husband deposited a sum of Eight million,seven hundres thousand U.S. dollars in a foreign account which will pass onto me and my daughters in the events of his death, I was not aware of this. The lawyer told me he instructed him to let me and my daughters know this only in the events of his death. He did this because of the nature of his business, which involves a lot of traveling. The problem now is that i do not want his family members to know about this development in order to prevent them from bouncing on the money again as they did his properties here. This can be prevented only if the money does not come here. I do not want the money to come here. I am looking for who will help me receive this funds into his/her account overseas so that I can come over there after the money is transferred. The lawyer says we need a foreign account where the money will be received and I do not have any and cannot afford to open one from here. As the money overseas has not been legally made mine, I do not have access to the money yet. The lawyer has documents that will make the transfer of the money to you very easy. I am writing you to please help me receive this money. I promise to give you a negotiable percentage of the money and this percentage that you will get will be discussed when you have received this money from the fiduciary agent abroad. This was why I said I am making you a business proposition. I just hope you will not abscond with the money when you get it. Please help my daughters and me for this is our only lifeline in life.~ You are to reach me with this E-mail address if you want to help me <[deleted]> I will reveal to you further details when i hear from you. I expect to hear from you soonest.

Thank you.

Yours truly,

Mrs.Grace Ashaun.


Heart-wrenching, no? The Tsunami barely has a chance to dry, and we get this. This is a scam. This letter is akin to those letters from "barristers" in Nigeria trying to locate "next of kin" to people who died in a car accident leaving millions to be split with -- well, you.

I am posting this as an example of these things -- they are all over the place. Do not take the hook. Any time you get an e-mailed plea for help, usually because of some truly horrific and sad thing, and which promises you a cut of millions of dollars, realize it is a fraud.

Similarly, any time you get alarming messages from your bank via e-mail, realize that it is not your bank, really, but someone trying to scam you. I mentioned this before, but these are truly alarming, and the warning bears repeating.

Other types of bogus e-mails include hoaxes -- someone sends an alarming message saying, for example, that there is this truly horrific e-mail virus that is being spread that can't be detected by anti-virus software, and that you should delete such-and-such files, and forward the alarming message to all of your friends and family.

Another hoax is an alarming e-mail about some social injustice and that we need to bombard someone's e-mail address with protests about how rotten this injustice is. Usually, the injustice is not real, or is disrelated to the person being emailed. The person being bombed by e-mail is probably the ex-girlfriend who dumped the loser that started the hoax.

The common denominator to these is "alarming e-mails." When you get an alarming e-mail, one that seems odd or hard to imagine or improbably profitable, it is virtually always a fraud or scam.

Caveat surfer - Let the web surfer (and e-mailer) beware!