Email scams often take various forms - but typically they will claim that you have the chance to pick up millions of dollars (perhaps from Mrs Gaddafi, or a non-existent lottery, or a serviceman who has stumbled across a fortune while despots flee the country).
Victims are tricked into handing over money in advance (this is why it's caused advance fee fraud) in the hope of receiving their supposed fortune. All they end up with, however, is a large hole in their bank account.
The following email scam that I came across takes a rather different approach.
Here's a summary of the story that the email tries to sell you:
1. Police stopped a female diplomat at JFK airport, who was found to carrying a package to your doorstep.
2. The woman didn't know what the contents of the package were - but it turns out it was a "huge amount of money".
3. The diplomat is being detained until the police determine how the fortune came to be yours.
4. The police would like you to contact the person who asked the diplomat to take the money to you (they handily provide a Gmail address, an AOL address, and a Nigerian telephone number), as apparently if you forward a certificate from them the money will be released.
5. But if you *don't* send the certificate you will be charged with money-laundering! Nasty!
6. "Thanks for your understanding and co-operation"
Here's the full email:
INTERNATIONAL POLICE AUTHORITY UNITED STATES SECTION (INTERPOL) JOHN F. KENNEDY RESIDENT AGENCY ANTI-TERRORIST AND MONITORY CRIMES DIVISION JFK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT NEW YORK, NEW YORK 11430 We, office of the international police authority (IPA) hereby write to inform you that we caught a diplomatic lady by the name Mrs. Vernon [REDACTED] at (John Kennedy International Airport) here in New York with a consignment box filled with United States Dollars. Base on our interview to the diplomat she said that the consignment box belongs to you and that she was sent by one Edward [REDACTED] to come deliver the consignment box to your doorstep not knowing that the content of the box is money. Now, the diplomat is under detention in the office of (IPA) security, and we cannot release her until we carry out our proper investigation on how this huge amount of money managed to be yours. So, in this regards you are to reassure and prove to us that the money you are about to receive is legal by sending us the Award Ownership Certificate showing that the money is not illegal. Note, that the Award Ownership Certificate must to be secured from the office of the Nigerian Senate President, because that is the only office that will issue you the original Award Ownership Certificate of this funds, this is because the fund originated from Nigeria. You are advised to forward immediately the Award Ownership Certificate if you have it with you, but if you do not have it, we urge you to contact back the sender of the diplomat to help you secure the Award Ownership Certificate if at all you do not have it. Below is the contact information of the person that sent Mrs. Vernon [REDACTED] as provied by her; Name: : Edward [REDACTED] Email: edward[REDACTED]@gmail.com or edward[REDACTED]@aol.com Phone: +234[REDACTED] Furthermore, we are giving you only but 3 working business days to forward the requested Award Ownership Certificate. Please note that we shall get back to you after the 3 working business days, that if you didn’t come up with the certificate we shall confiscate the funds into World Bank account then charge you for money laundering, but if you forward the Award Ownership Certificate then we will release diplomat with your consignment box also gives you every back up on the money. Thanks for your understanding and co-operation Yours Truly, Agent. Douglas [REDACTED] Tel: 813-[REDACTED] JOHN F. KENNEDY RESIDENT AGENCY ANTI-TERRORIST AND MONITORY CRIMES DIVISION JFK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT NEW YORK, NEW YORK 11430 CC: Canadian Police CC: GENERAL INTELLIGENCE DEPARTMENT (GID) CC: Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) CC: Egmont Group CC: FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (FBI USA) CC: European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) CC: Financial Action Task Force (FATF) CC: International Monetary Fund (IMF) CC: International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) CC: International Banking Security Association (IBSA) CC: International Air Transport Association (IATA) CC: Institut de Formation Interbancaire (INSIG) CC: World Customs Organization (WCO) CC: Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) CC: Offshore Group of Banking Supervisors (OGBS) CC: WORLD CENTRAL BANK (SW) CC: NIGERIA POLICE FORCE (NPF) CC: NORTH YORKSHIRE POLICE (UK) CC: ECONOMIC FINANCIAL CRIME COMMISSION (EFCC)
Hopefully you would never be tricked by such an email. But can you honestly say that you don't know anyone elderly or vulnerable who wouldn't be fooled?
The truth is that scams like this *do* make money and *do* fool some of the people some of the time. There's an active industry of scammers attempting to defraud vulnerable people via email - so be on your guard and warn your friends and family.Follow @gcluley