Friday, March 20, 2009

Don't be that idiot...

So, I'm sitting there today working on something for a client when I received an unsolicted Skype Message with an "Important Business Proposal".

I normally mess with these guys a little, just to waste their time , but as I was on the phone to a client I just decided to get rid of him quickly.

As you can see - he was suprisingly honest about his ultimate intentions.

This is how the scam works

Mr Dutu, or Mrs Dutu is usually writing to you from a yahoo or other free email address. It usually doesn't address you by name. It always offers some opportunity - usually, the chance to get a share of millions of dollars in exchange for some assistance.

A common theme is the widow of a Nigerian official (or just a corrupt Nigerian official) wants to move $250M (usually spelled as TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY MILLION DOLLARS) out of the country. He or she just needs a partner overseas.

They offer a split of the money. Often there is the chance of further profits (we'd like to invest in real-estate in your country, and we will give you 10% of the profits). Quite often, they thank God for His mercy in finding someone as kind as yourself to help them.

So, you're probably asking yourself - how does this scam work? They want to send you $250M - it's going to your bank account - what's the catch? This scam has been going on for years, and it's called Advanced Fee Fraud.

Had I accepted this guy's offer, here's what likely would have happened:

  • He'd ask me for some ID - passport and bank account details for the money
  • He's send me some official looking documentation - fake of course - which would allow me to claim the money from some third party. The third party would probably also have a free email address too (like Yahoo or Hotmail).
  • The third party (Notary, Bank Manager) would contact me about claiming my money - and here's the catch - there's a $20 fee for stamping the document. Or a $200 fee.
  • Mr Dutu would claim not to have this money, but of course, since I will soon get 10% of $250M, $200 is not much to pay.
  • I'd send the money - and the documents would be "stamped".
  • Once they'd got me for $200 - there would be some other issue... and the costs would keep rising and rising until they couldn't get any more money out of me.
It's a sad fact that in tough economic times, people get desparate and take risks or chances that they wouldn't normally take in the hope of the "one big win" that would solve all their problems. You can imagine being in dire straights, and having invested $2,000 or so , thinking another $500 can't hurt.

Don't get caught out.

I've told the guy to go and find an idiot. Don't let it be you - seriously - if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. The chance that some corrupt official is going to send you $250M dollars and let you keep 10% of it is pretty remote to say the least.

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