Scammers are one of my pet hates, the only defence I’ve found is through continual learning about myself and about how they do what they do. I love watching TV shows or movies about scammers, helps me to develop an immunity to these pests. Way back last year I wrote a post about the online casino scam – “I Make Money Online, The Anatomy of a Scam”, and more recently about an email scam – “The Lady In Distress Scam”
Being negative and looking for the negatives – often I see people saying “always be positive” (myself included !). However it’s pretty dumb to always be positive, and overlook a very useful skill, that of the critic. Our critical appraisal is necessary and useful, in life and in business.
The email I received this morning is a prime example. It’s from a guy who’s a business acquaintance of mine, he did some accountancy/consultancy work for me. Whilst we’re on good terms, he’s not a friend in the classical sense of the word. We don’t share moonlit evenings, candle-lit dinners, long walks in the park or nights out in the pub.
I say “It’s from”, well actually it’s from a hacker/scammer looking to obtain money by deception – FRAUD.
When someone asks me for money, I pull it apart, I look at the angles, I look for any inconsistency. Why ? Because I don’t want to be giving my money away to questionable causes, scammers, con-artists, fraudsters or other undesirables. My money is for me, for my life, without it I may not be able to afford the necessities. What if I get sick or one of my loved ones get’s sick – who will help me/us ? It’s part of taking responsibility for myself. Part of being a grown up adult rather than a child.
Also in taking responsibility for myself, I’m influencing others, insofar that they find out pretty quickly they can’t get around me with bullshit. This makes me more secure in my life and able to weed out undesirables early.
People think me incredibly critical when they present their business ideas. But in all actuality it’s the exact same thing I’m doing. Tear it completely to pieces, if the business idea can stand, in spite of the criticisms – then it’s still a good idea, and it’s a go … otherwise ditch it. THE POSITIVE is that I/we don’t have to go through the whole process, waste our time and money on something that DOESN’T WORK or ISN’T VIABLE. Not because I’m a negative person, mostly actually trying to be helpful !
Anyway I digress – Here’s the email :
Sorry for any inconvenience, but I’m in a terrible situation. I came down here to Ukraine for a program,last night on my way back to my hotel room I was robbed at gunpoint, my wallet and other valuables were stolen off me, leaving my passport and life safe. My luggage is still in custody of the hotel management pending when I make payment on outstanding bills I owe. I called my bank for a wire transfer but it has proven almost Impossible to operate my account from here as they made me understand international transactions take 7 working days to be effective which i can’t wait. I will be indeed very grateful if i can get a loan of ($2,550) to settle out my hotel bills, I will reimburse you soon as I get back Home. I will appreciate whatever you can assist me with. Let me know if you can be of help.
All hopes on you.
[His actual footer was included – it’s the same as every other email I’ve ever received from him]
People unexpectedly asking me for money always starts the internal alarm bells ringing. Someone whom I have not a very close relationship with, especially so. He’s a business acquaintance, not a family member or close friend that I’ve shared swathes of my life with.
It’s possible he’s in the Ukraine “for a program”, but why doesn’t he say what the program is. If it’s a conference then why not say that, or a training course then say that. It’s intentionally vague, because it’s being sent out to multiple people. I mean if I’m asking someone for $2550, it’s likely they are going to want to know the details, not just a vague “for a program”. Also “program” is spelt incorrectly, yes a computer “program” is correct, but this is a conference or something like that, that would be a “programme”. My business acquaintance is unlikely to have made this mistake, he’s a professional person who deals with business correspondence day-in, day-out, has done all his life.
Ok, so he could have been robbed at gunpoint, there are some troubles in the Ukraine I think at the moment. So again why would he be in the Ukraine for “a program” with the problems there ?
It’s pretty dumb to be walking around with all one’s valuables, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. It’s possible they left him with his passport, and his “life safe”, thank heaven for small mercies ! … Odd that this only happened last night and now the hotel has his luggage “in custody of the hotel management”, plus I think it should be “in the custody of the hotel management”, for correct grammar.
The capitalisation of the “I” in “Impossible” is a bit fishy, could be done for emphasis, but the guy is supposed to be desperate so why not capitalise the entire word. Probably not a mistake my acquaintance would have made. Also international transactions don’t take 7 working days, and why 7 and not 5 – there aren’t 7 working days in a week, there’s 5. I very highly doubt that it’s not possible for a bank, for their customer’s emergency, to wire money quicker, much quicker.
I don’t think I’d use “take 7 working days to be effective” when talking about an international transaction, “to take effect” would be slightly better grammar. “which I can’t wait”, surely that should be “but I can’t wait”.
The whole sentence that pertains to the banking transactions is too long, full of grammar mistakes and inconsistencies. I’d suggest the scammer is thinking too hard on the end game of spending my $2550 !
The use of “I” and “i” varies in the email, correct grammar is “I”. Perhaps under pressure I’d make the same mistake. But again another tell-tale sign I’m looking at.
What about his family, why hasn’t he contacted them ? Presumably that would be most people’s first reaction ?
He goes on to ask for a loan of $2550, which is pretty hefty for a hotel bill! Last hotel I stayed in was maybe $75 a night, and this is the Ukraine we’re talking about not St Tropez. At $75 that’s 34 nights, and really why should I pay for him to stay in Ukraine for a month program !
Also this guy is British, his currency is pounds, British pounds, so why the hell is he asking for presumably American dollars. He also says “if i can get a loan”, a British person is unlikely to say “if I can get”, more likely “if you could loan me”. In a restaurant we’d say “Please can you bring me the bill”, not “Can I get the check”.
Then there’s a fishy downgrade of the money request down to please send me anything. So it’s gone from a large amount to begging for change. Do you need $2550 or not ? Then why downgrade it ? If you need $2550 you need $2550 not $10.
And why is the subject of the email “Ukraine Trip …….. [Acquaintance’s name]” … wouldn’t that more likely be – “Please help – I’ve been robbed” … isn’t the subject supposed to tell you what the email’s about, “Ukraine Trip ……” sounds like a plain boring business email … but perhaps therein lies the trick ?
“All hopes on you.” is the final statement – why don’t you try and make me feel like it’s my responsibility and all the pressure is on me. Without me you will die in the Ukraine …
… I mean come on, this is laughably not very well thought through and so easily to pull apart !
To recap – I received an email this morning from a business acquaintance, which in all actuality from a scammer/hacker. The email states that my acquaintance is in trouble overseas in the Ukraine. It paints a picture that attempts to manipulate me into sending money to the scammer(s). I use my critical and negative faculties to pull this email apart, how to spot a fake vs the real thing.
Writing prompt … Schmiting prompt ! … I just take what ever’s on offer – improvise!
Hackers and scammers are everywhere. Scammers play at heart strings. They spin stories which are plausible. They have a fair understanding of human psychology and use our “weaknesses” to attempt to get something for nothing, at best, at worst people have suffered torture or death because they’ve been tricked. Compassion not tempered with caution is just plain old stupidity. Compassion is often the “weakness” they are trying to exploit – our good heartedness.
Use of critical faculties, isn’t the work of unvirtuous people – critical appraisal is often wise, and in the individual’s best interests. Scammers and manipulators can only be only be thwarted by arming oneself with the necessary tools to detect and repel – such tools are based in negativity and critical appraisal. Using one’s critical appraisal in this way is turning a negative into a positive.
If you are worried about online security, you are welcome to contact us at DonCharisma.com. We can either act as consultants or provide an estimate for the work needed to make you more secure online.
It’s not all doom and gloom in the world – Don’t forget that the vast majority of people aren’t scammers. But being careful is prudent never-the-less.
Resources & Source
“Dodgy” Character – morgueFile.com