Internet Scams

A commenter on the past post wrote –

OMG, anyone dumb enough to fall for these so called ‘scams’ almost deserve it. If you fall for this, eventually you are gonna give your money away to someone, why not them?

How can someone be so naive about these e-mails etc and think they are real? i mean come on, where have you been the last 20 years?????

It’s a simple matter of education. A lot of the people scammed are elderly or not computer literate. They are new to the internet, and they do not know these things have been around for 20 years. It is interesting to me that many people want to place the blame on the victim of this crime rather than on the *criminals* who trick people.

The lottery scams are probably the most successful for the scammers as far as easy fast money. Many people are already of the belief that they will win Lotto at some point during their life. They believe it will happen and some of them buy a lot of lotto tickets for many different lotteries. When they get this email all rational thought goes out of their head, and all they think is “I knew it would happen one day, and finally all my dreams have come true”.

And note that in some countries, you can actually get an email from the lotto company telling you that you have won – the UK lottery companies do this as well as other countries. Of course, you have to buy a ticket for it to be legitimate. These scammers are good at what they do. So good that they will cover a lot of the questions you might have in their first email. For example – from the lotto scams repository

An exclusive list of email addresses of thousands of individual and corporate bodies were picked by automated random computer search from the internet. No tickets were sold.

The victims reply to the scammer and usually several emails go back and forward before they are told of any fees. The amount will always be small, and it will sound reasonable – oh, I only have to pay $100 in courier fees to get my check? Oh, they want to send it by courier so it will be safe and not get stolen? Well, it’s a small price to pay to get the millions I have won. And in their heads, they have already SPENT that money. In fact they’ve spent it long before that email arrives – I know I have plans for my $20 million dollar win, don’t you?

Once the first $100 is paid, they might have a problem with customs letting the courier into the country, they might have to pay taxes, there’s plenty of different tricks the scammers use. This time the amount will be more, maybe $600-1000. Again, the victim thinks – it’s a small price to pay to get my money. The victim will probably try to negotiate with the scammer to pay less – can you take it out of the money once I get my winnings, I don’t have enough to pay that right now but I can pay and give you the rest when I get my winnings. And of course the scammer will take anything the victim will give.

They might then refer the victim to a fake bank website. These can look extremely real. The victim gives all their banking information to the scammers. The scammers use that information to make fake checks in the victim’s name, and they may have got credit card info as well, which they will have shared and/or sold to other scammers. They may send a file to the victim which contains a keylogger.

If the victim does not cooperate, they will often be threatened. We have all your information. We know where you live. Pay up or we’ll send someone around. This can be especially upsetting to elderly victims.

The scammers use email extractor programs to retrieve email addresses from the internet. They are especially keen on countries which do not have a good understanding of English. India seems to be the current favourite of the scammers, Russia and Asia are always popular. They will send out *thousands* of emails over the course of a day, and they usually get about a 10% reply rate but higher in non-english speaking countries. They do this each day. Except Sundays, when they go to Church in the morning with all their scammer friends, then back to the internet cafes in the afternoon for a little more spamming and scamming.

The thing people don’t understand about this scam is that the victims get emotionally and financially invested in them. It seems so obvious that it’s a scam to those of us educated on the topic but they are not looking at it logically like we are.

I really dislike it when people seem to feel morally or intellectually superior to victims of these scams. It can happen to *anyone* who doesn’t know about them. That is a large amount of people on this planet.

Nobody deserves to be scammed. Absolutely nobody.

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