Friday, March 04, 2011

Old Dogs and New Tricks...

As many of you know, I get a good laugh out of the scam e-mail that finds it's way into my junk folder. Despite all the heart-wrenching claims by the people (i.e. criminal organizations) in these missives to be poor, orphaned waifs, living under the threat of imminent assassination, they somehow always manage to have $3,000,000 bucks squirreled away by their corrupt-former-government-official father (who has always either been assassinated, or killed in a plane crash, and they send you a hyperlink to a news story about someone's grisly death as 'proof') that they just can't get to without the help of an anonymous stranger.

Or maybe it's some young girl, who hints there may be the possibility of marriage if you hear her plaintive wails, who has won a "Sweepstakes" (I didn't know they had any in Bangladesh, but apparently, they do. I wonder: what do you win? A lifetime supply of flies and diarrhea?), but because of the machinations of wicked relatives, they must flee for their lives with this newly found bounty, and somehow, you -- Anonymous Douchebag reading something G-mail flagged as Spam, But Then Sent Anyway -- are the only person in the universe who can supplying your bank account number.

These sorts of scams always make me laugh, if only because the whole millieux is so patently ridiculous, and because the scam always follows the same, predictable script. It's a scam that is designed to take advantage of those baser human frailties which are the most easily manipulated: greed, stupidity, loneliness, reflexive sympathy, inability to think critically. Most people have the braincells to avoid these obvious hoaxes, and so they don't get ripped off by them.

However, the scammers are always getting more sophisticated. The early series of scam mail I used to get was in poorly-constructed English, which often made it hilarious, and the circumstances under which the young girl -- it was always a young girl, who has just finished her morning prayers before she decided to e-mail 30 million anonymous strangers for financial and immigration help --become ever-more outlandish and ever-more pitiful. No sooner did I start reposting the stuff to make fun of it, and to warn the dumber elements of society not to fall for this stuff, then I began to receive more sophisticated scam mail; better spelling and grammar more soap-opera-type storylines and plot-twists, less tear-jerking pre-amble, and more get-to-the-point-ed-ness. The quality of my scam mail improved virtually overnight!

It's as if the scammers are reading their reviews. The message they got: if you're going to try and steal from me, at least don't insult my intelligence! If only the U.S. Government had the work ethic and free-market instincts of these Nigerian/Russian e-mail scam artists who are constantly striving to improve the quality of their product to meet the high expectations of the most discerning consumers of spam!

Anyway, the latest iteration of this old 'gimme access to your bank account' scam has a new twist: the scammers are apparently watching the news, making their pitch to the potential victim topical and all current-eventy-ish, and loaded with little factoids about the Middle Eastern Kleptocracy that you were just dying to know, but were afraid to ask. I've already gotten seven or eight of these things this week, all of them claiming to be from former officials of the gone/tottering/soon-to-fall regimes of Mubarak, Khadaffi, or the Saudi Royal Family, amongst others.

Here's this week's best offering. Please note the two new twists to the original template; now it's the scammer's wife and children who have been assassinated (maybe aimed specifically at potential female victims?), and just so you can't fact-check the claim (just in case you have just enough intelligence to at least make a cursory check of the complete stranger you're about to give access to your bank account to), the deaths of his family cannot be verified because they 'were never publicized'; not even a hyperlink to a news story that might/might not be true. The whole thing is a hush-hush affair --I can promise you, thirty million other people have gotten this e-mail, so the cat is out of the bag, so to speak. Have yourself a good laugh:

"Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who has not had a vice-president since he took office in 1981, appointed his intelligence chief and confidant Omar Suleiman. I AM MR. ADEL ALY MOHAMED, one of the senior adviser to the president.

I am Mr. Adel Aly Elwy Mohamed Ragheb Hassan. I have been working with the president as a Top Secret Adviser since 1990, a role in which I played prominent in diplomacy. Once a prosperous country which aided closely by USA government, my people has been awakened by the economic instability issues.

Desperate and alone. Egypt is now a country of chaos. It assassinated my wife and 1 child. Now I have nobody left. Pleading you to keep the above misfortune which has never been publicized and should be kept secret for Egyptians and the country. I have been kept wise and awakened by reality in Allah.

I have made up my mind to come to your country to start a new life. Allah will open your heart and wisdom for the TOP SECRET deal. I am in position with the total sum of US$ 3,000,000.00 (Three Million United State Dollars) kept in a box in a foreign Finance Security Company. I have had discussions with its Regional Manager regarding every movement of the box deposited in their security company to a foreign country. He has understood my condition and is ready to attend to my request immediately. The kind-hearted manager did not know the content of the box as it has been packed and box when it reached his office. He helped me with the pure heart and understanding that the political instability in Egypt has left me alone.

Please help to claim this box to be received in your country. You will use the money in the box for investment. If you are serious and capable to handle this deal, get back to me NOW at (e-mail address removed for safety reasons). There is no more time to waste. Egypt is in chaos. The biggest chaos that has made Allah to seek this route to success with YOU.

THIS IS AGAIN A SECRET DEAL which can be our gate of success and breakthrough!
\Adel Aly Elwy Mohamed."

1 comment:

J.D. Cole said...

HA - someone hacked my mom's email and mailed a scam saying she was stuck in another country and needed my help.

I wrote back and told her I didn't love her anymore anyway so why would I help...

they actually responded. LMAO.