Somebody's grandmother died and left money; or someone was wrongfully arrested for life and left money; or someone came across a big pool of money accidentally left behind by corrupt government officials. Stuff like that.
The email ends with the sender asking if you will help by providing your bank account details to him, or by sending him some money so that he can get out of some terrible emergency.
Naturally, such emails are quite fake and you can smell fraud all over them. Typically we should delete them without a second thought (if they have't already been caught by the spam filter).
However I've often wondered how exactly the perpetrator plans to go about cheating his gullible victim (if he does find one). So yesterday when I received one of these emails, I decided to play along, just to see what happens next. The email address sounded more authentic than usual (it had a Chinese Singaporean name) and the message was as follows:
How are you doing today? I am sorry i didn't inform you about my traveling to Africa for a program called "Empowering Youth to Fight Racism, HIV/AIDS, Poverty and Lack of Education, the program is taking place in three major countries in Africa which is Ghana , South Africa and Nigeria . It has been a very sad and bad moment for me, the present condition i found myself is very hard for me to explain.So last night I replied as follows: "hi james, sure. It's not a big sum and i an glad to help. Please give me the hotel's name and bank account no. and i will send some money for that bill".
I am really stranded in Nigeria because I forgot my little bag in the Taxi where my money, passport, documents and other valuable things were kept on my way to the Hotel am staying, I am facing a hard time here because i have no money on me. I am now owning a hotel bill of $1050 and they wanted me to pay the bill soon else they will have to seize my bag and hand me over to the Hotel Management.
I need this help from you urgently to help me back home, I need you to help me with the hotel bill and i will also need $1250 to feed and help myself back home so please can you help me with a sum of $2300 to sort out my problems here? I need this help so much and on time because i am in a terrible and tight situation here, I don't even have money to feed myself for a day which
means i had been starving so please understand how urgent i need your help. i have decided not tell my family so that they will not be worried. when I return I will tell them and they will understand.
I am sending you this e-mail from the city Library and I only have 30 min, I will appreciate what so ever you can afford to send me for now and I promise to pay back your money as soon as i return home so please let me know on time so that i can forward you the details you need to transfer the money through Money Gram or Western Union. Hope to hear from you. James.
What happened next? This morning I checked my emails and sure enough, there was a reply. Here it is:
please ignore the mail..my email account been hacked... ;(.
So now I may have uncovered one possible step of the modus operandi. It seems that the fraudsters hack the email accounts of innocent folks, and use those email accounts to send out their fraudulent message.
Any of you know the rest of their tricks?