I just received a fascinating e-mail from Mr. Michael Jones, who addressed me as his Dear Friend, and identified himself as director of his “bank here in the UK.” Mr. Jones was eager to share 30% of the nine million eight hundred pound windfall he had just uncovered… you can fill in the rest. What impressed me the most with Mr. Jones’ kind letter was the fact that there were at least one or two grammatical, spelling or otherwise glaring errors per sentence. I mean, don’t these guys know about Spellcheck?
The whole thing was ridiculous enough for me to want to RSVP, but I resisted that temptation. I simultaneously wanted to Do Something, but my husband assured me the old Nigerian e-mail scam is bigger than I am and it’s not likely I will be able to stop it.
Do people really fall for these things? It must happen. Somebody, I also presume, buys mortgages from telemarketers or they wouldn’t call me up 15 times a day. However, surfing around for more on Mr. Jones and his colleagues I was happy to discover a website that is way ahead of me:
Nigerian scam artists have wised up to the fact that many of us no longer get taken in by the Nigerian email scam from phony government or bank officials offering to split multi-million dollar fortunes or inheritances, or Nigerian scams involving forged overpayment checks that require us to send untraceable money-wires back to them.
So, they’ve developed new ways to try to convince us that their money-grubbing cons are really genuine.
New variations of the so-called Nigerian 419 scam (named for the section of the Nigerian constitution that deals with this crime) appear almost weekly.
Some of them are pretty clever. But with the right degree of healthy skepticism, you can still see through them.
We’ve got the low-down on three new tricks (or variations of existing Nigerian scams) to help you spot them.
After bogus checks, prepare for forged cash.
Those checks that came with letters telling us we’d won a lottery or had been selected to become mystery shoppers are so yesterday.
Today’s Nigerian scammers try to convince us with the “real” thing — $100 bills.
In a new trick, seen for the first time in Kansas in April this year, a scammer sent $3,000 worth of forged bills to a man and asked him to use it to buy a Moneygram.
The victim had been corresponding by email supposedly with a woman in Nigeria. He received the “cash” from a person claiming to be the woman’s uncle, who asked him to send the Moneygram to her so she could come to the US.
He fell for it, but the forgery was spotted at the Moneygram office.
A few days later, a Nevada man tried the same thing, after receiving $3,000 of forged notes. He was told he could keep $500 and tried to buy a $2,500 Moneygram with the remainder.
Action: Watch out for more of these tricks in the coming months. Bluntly, never send Moneygrams on behalf of someone you don’t know, whether you receive cash or a check.
I’m glad to know there’s somebody out there watching. I think I’ll pass on Mr. Jones’ offer.