Scams are Back

December 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

Here is an interesting e-mail. “Dear Wells Fargo Customer, You have been identified as a key person to be a participant in our company’s 360 degree feedback survey process.” The message goes on to say how important I am, and if I’ll simply fill out the form, stick in my account number, password and DNA, then W F will send me $50. This same sender will also drain all my accounts, open up my safety deposit box and steal my birthright.

And another: “I am Martin Moussa Ahmed citizen of Libya, and son to Late General Abdul Moussa Ahmed, a very close friend to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Few days before my dad (sic) death he told me that he had deposited the sum of 11.7 Million USD in a consignment box with a security company.” My new best friend Ahmed will give me 25 percent of his fortune if only I will deposit a small amount of cash just to show my good intentions.

Are you suddenly getting a lot of these scams? A few years ago Nigerian princes were sweeping through the on-line world promising a fortune if only we would help them retrieve their billion dollars from a London bank. We can only wonder how many poor, gullible folks bought into the scheme. But now the con artists are back. “Due to the congestion in all Comcast mail users accounts, the Comcast mail team would be shutting down all unused accounts.” In order to re-open my account, I need to send “Comcast” my name, account number, password and shoe size. Wouldn’t you think my carrier would already know all of this?

The Comcast and Well Fargo scams are a step forward in that I do, indeed, use those companies. In the past I have received requests for information from companies I didn’t use. “We here at the Left Bank of the Bayou need to protect your etc…” Never used that bank. Can you stand another example? This one really pushes the e-mail envelope: “Dear Valued Customer, When we detect irregular activity on your Citizens Online Banking account to help us prevent crime, we need to confirm your identity. This means proving who you are and where you live. As part of our security checks we’ll usually ask you for some personal details.” Right, ask me for some personal details.

In addition to these messages, are you getting phone call versions of the same game? The phone rings. It’s a recording: “Hi, this is Rachel from Credit Card Services. We have been trying to reach you. This is our final call. In order to continue using your credit card (they never identify the card service by name), you must re-apply by answering these few questions.” A dead giveaway is the background noise. Scores if not hundreds of Rachels are making the identical call.

Now, we must ponder a few points. First, they – whomever they are – are continuing to run these rackets because they work. I mean, if the pirates of the PCs batted zero, after a few thousand unproductive calls they would turn to some other rip-off, like running for president or selling beer at NFL games for $15 a cup. So the bunko artists must be pulling in some idiots.

Two, exactly who are these idiots who would buy into such transparent phony offerings? I’d love to observe e-mails and phone calls that reply, and see just who is so easily misled. Probably the same people who buy books written by Sarah and Newt. I’d also love to read the complaints filed at the local cop shop from people who kept waiting for their $1 million check from the First Bank of Lagos. “Officer, all they asked for was my Social Security number and combination to my lock box. They said they were from the CIA and it was my patriotic duty.”

Over the years I have been hit up by phone calls from the Texas Deputy Dawg Backers Society (“We do good things for old deputies”) and e-mails from assorted heirs who only need my help to secure their fortune. A twist on this is the London solicitor who represents the late Crown Prince Akmed of Egypt and writes that I have been selected to help etc. etc.

One of my favorites is the Cases of the Errant E-Mail. Out of nowhere I get this one: “Bunny Lou, as you know, I’ve been dating this guy who’s a veep of  MegaMite, and he told me they’ve just landed a $3 BILLION contract with Homeland Security and the stock is going to go through the roof. Keep this to yourself, but buy MegaMite now! See you at the big party for Alfred. Love, Nanci-May.” By shear luck, I have stumbled into a Wall Street insider’s bonanza and shall make a fortune at the expense of the other suckers.

All of these easy-money rackets are based on a single characteristic of gullible victims: They think THEY are the sly fellows, the insiders, and are pulling a quick one on the bank or government or big corporation. Mix this with a heavy dose of greed and reel in the poor jerk.

Wait, a new version: “Hi, I need your help. I made a stealth trip for a short vacation in London, UK. Unfortunately for me, I got mugged at GUN POINT in the park of the hotel where I stayed, all cash, credit card and cell were stolen off me but luckily for me I still have my passports with me.” The urgent e-mail says the writer’s flight leaves in a few hours, “but am having problems settling the hotel bills. The hotel manager won’t let me leave until I settle the bills. I really need your urgent assistance. Charles.” Everyone knows someone name Charles. Wonder how he made out?

There’s a sucker born every minute, which is why I was very careful to only buy 1,000 shares of MegaMite before it went bankrupt.

Ashby is scammed at ashby2@comcast.net

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