Monday, December 19, 2005

The latest variety of scam-spam

You know them, we all get them--those e-mails written in a sort of elegantly polite and yet utterly fractured English, attempting to prey in equal measure on the reader's sympathy, naivete, and greed.

I receive several almost every day. Usually, they've been correctly identified by Yahoo e-mail as spam, go directly into the bulk folder, and are deleted.

But every now and then one appears with a new twist that captures my interest for a moment before it goes down the spamhole with its brethren. Here's one that seems to be pitched either to the international anti-American sensibility, or to those "progressives" in this country who have a yen to help a supposed confederate of Saddam:

Dear Sir,

Before I proceed, may I humbly introduce my self to your good self, My Name is Mrs. Hajia lilian, an Iraqi refugee, my husband was until recently, one of the personal aid to the president of Iraq who was formerly overthrown out of power by American Government . Prior to this last serious crisis that is still ravaging in my country, which recently led to misfortune of our government and my late husband
position as the personal aid to the president, we were able to inherited the sum of US11 million.The funds were originally gotten from my late husband proceeds.My late husband was able to safe guard the fund with a very good diplomatic & Lifting Company


I'm not familiar with diplomatic and Lifting Companies, but they sound like a fine idea for protecting the money of a late "aid" to the exceedingly unlate "president of Iraq who was formerly overthrown out of power" by that nasty old American Government .

And now Ms. lilian seems to have decided it might be a good idea to consider sending that inherited 11 million in American dollars (inherited, perhaps, by way of the ever-gracious UN oil-for-food program?) right back to the good old USA, among other nations:

I have decided to contact you because I am interested in investing in your country which is investment friendly. Please kindly guide and assist me in making the right investment since I am also interested in buying a residential property as I will be moving my family over there as soon as every thing regarding technical and logictics details is worked out and ascertained to our respective satisfaction.

How fascinating! The former aide to Saddam's family may be coming here--right to the belly of the beast, as it were.

And, amazingly enough, there just might be something in it for me, risk-free. Will wonders never cease?

In view of your participation,I am ready to give you a good negotiable percentage for your assistance,or better still commit it into viable Joint venture projects,be assured that you stand no risk of any kind as the funds belong to me and my only survived son. As soon as I get your consent, we will quickly move this fund to your country for investment . However, upon your acceptance to work as my partner, I am here with my only surviving son Mohammed, I strongly believe that associating with you to embark on this and other business ventures will derive a huge success here after, please include you private contact telephone number and private e-mail when replying.
Yours Sincerely.
Mrs Hajia lilian


In all seriousness, what I find puzzling is that someone, somewhere, must be taken in by this sort of thing, because otherwise the scammers/spammers wouldn't bother to waste the effort. So, who are these people who are responding to Ms. lilian's requests? And in what protected universe have they been hiding all these years, that they're not onto the game?

14 Comments:

At 1:47 PM, December 19, 2005, Anonymous Roberto said...

>So, who are these people who are responding to Ms. lilian's requests?

Well, this guy for example:

http://www.hogonice.com/2004/07/the_obese_white_mans_burden.html

 
At 2:22 PM, December 19, 2005, Anonymous ElMondoHummus (formerly E.M.H) said...

Ma'am, this is simply another varient of 419 i.e. "Nigerian" scam; the only difference is that this one purports to be from an Iraqi. If you Google "Nigerian Spam" or "419 scam", and you'll come up with all sorts of info about it. The Wikipedia article talks about losses being estimated at $100 million by 1997.

Here's the "419 Coalition's" website:

http://home.rica.net...

O'Reilly (the computer training network, not the Fox News personality) said the following:

"In the middle of 2003, Iraqi themes began to surface in new renditions of the typical Nigerian advance-fee fraud or "419" scam spam. One version appears to be from a 29-year-old Baghdad resident with $20 million she wants to share in exchange for getting her out of the country. Other messages seem to come from American soldiers or Iraqis who looted banks during the fall of Baghdad."

http://www.oreillynet.com...


"So, who are these people who are responding to Ms. lilian's requests?"

I'm not sure who's fallen for this newest varient, but there are stories all over the web of poor, un-web-sophisticated folks falling for it. Here's a link to a site with email correspondence from a victim (Disclaimer: I have no way of verifying whether the info at that site is true or not):

http://www.quatloos.com...

And here's a story of an 86 year old Chinese woman who managed to get her money back (lucky her!):
http://www.philly.com...

And a series of links to news stories regarding this scam:

http://www.nigeriamasterweb.com...

Granted, most of the scams reported and linked there talk about the original, "Nigerian" varient, but there are mentions of others.

Yes, ma'am, what you got is simply the latest version of a longtime, on-going spam scam attempt. It's profitable for somebody.

 
At 2:28 PM, December 19, 2005, Blogger Motor 1560 said...

Well, P.T Barnum never said it, but; "There's a sucker born every minute".

 
At 2:30 PM, December 19, 2005, Blogger Sigmund, Carl and Alfred said...

Gee, and I thought it was just me.

 
At 2:55 PM, December 19, 2005, Blogger neo-neocon said...

elmondohummus: Oh yes, I understand that it's just a varient of the Nigerian e-mails. I just thought it was an especially interesting one, since I wouldn't have thought that posing as a confederate of Saddam would be all that attractive to too many people. I suppose, sadly enough, I'm wrong about that.

 
At 3:24 PM, December 19, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

You know them, we all get them--those e-mails written in a sort of elegantly polite and yet utterly fractured English, attempting to prey in equal measure on the reader's sympathy, naivete, and greed.

I don't mind the greed so much as all these emails are in CAPITAL LETTERS. That is rather obvious, and I don't really appreciate having my intelligence insulted when I god well know that every email in all capital letters is a spam one.
I receive several almost every day. Usually, they've been correctly identified by Yahoo e-mail as spam, go directly into the bulk folder, and are deleted.

one of the curious side effects of me choosing this alias is that it isn't on the radar of the spam senders. It really isn't. They have some kind of computer algorithm to check these things, and certain email names (like random letters) don't get on the radar. They must not change it because there are few people with random letters or emails not containing an English or Spanish or etc word.

Even neo neo con has con and neo, words in various use.

I have decided to contact you because I am interested in investing in your country which is investment friendly.

I think she should have emailed a Frenchmen. They are more "friendly" in terms of investment.

Joint venture projects,be assured that you stand no risk of any kind as the funds belong to me and my only survived son.

May I ask what the point of a joint venture without risk is?

I suppose, sadly enough, I'm wrong about that.

America only makes up less than 1/6th of the World population. And even 33% of our people cry out in support of Saddam.

So statistically speaking, the odds are quite good someone will fall for it. Enough to make a profit.

 
At 9:08 PM, December 19, 2005, Anonymous kurt said...

Didn't that brilliant member of the reality-based community, Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee, publicly admit that she sent money to Nigerian scammers?

 
At 10:22 AM, December 20, 2005, Anonymous ElMondoHummus said...

"I just thought it was an especially interesting one, since I wouldn't have thought that posing as a confederate of Saddam would be all that attractive to too many people."

Heh... I never thought of that. Yeah, talk about an unsympathetic choice of characters to try and create pity for.

Then again, probably most people can't see past the opportunity to make a few quick bucks. It's sort of a sad commentary on society -- world society, even -- that there are enough people falling for this to make it profitable for the scammers.

 
At 10:38 AM, December 20, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The difference is, Nigeria has laws that protect its citizens from prosecution for any fraud committed against people outside Nigeria, which fuels not only e-mail scams but also various phone redirection scams, such as the "dial any number toll free" scam that ends up redirecting you to a pay-per-call number charging several dollars per minute, and the more recent cell phone scam where people get a call from an "international subsidiary" of their cell phone provider and are asked to hold while several friends of the scammer use your minutes on a muted (to you) conference call.

Iraq doesn't have any such fraud protection laws, so it's probably some inexperienced scammer (or maybe desperate terrorist) looking for some quick money.

 
At 3:46 PM, December 20, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

If America told the international press that we have told Iraq to execute anyone caught perpetrating this scam with any ties of an Iraqi Origin, I do believe it would stop.

Especially if we said that the failure to do so would necessitate reconsideration of US support for Iraqi infrastructure and military logistics.

Catch them by the balls and their greed.

Just the right size of hammer. Not only would this reduce the scams, but it would reduce the far more important question of corruption in the Iraqi government. Putting pressure on them with real threats and real consequences, is the only way to temper human nature.

The sooner people understand not to do crime in Iraq, the sooner the country becomes a better place for everyone. That matters.

One of the reasons for the clause the "punishment must fit the crime" because punishment is the only way to temper the nature of humans into a shape that is useful and not wasteful.

And if you use the wrong punishment, like Death P for thieving, then you aren't correcting the root causes for thieving.

Vice a versa, going goo goo over Tricked out shotgun in the back meister by Hollywood wackos is not going to prevent people from murdering and gang banging in California.

All, in all, there is nothing sad about human nature. What is sad is that criminals are not being punished, instead they are rewarded, and that is sad.

 
At 9:30 PM, December 20, 2005, Blogger Renegade Eye said...

I found this blog surfing.

I'm cursed with too much knowledge about 419 scammers. The variations including check cashing schemes, employs between 150,000 to 200,000 people.

The best site I believe, to find fighters of the scammers is 419 Eater. These scammers have killed before. They are dangerous people. The Nigerian police get a cut of the $$.

 
At 10:28 PM, December 20, 2005, Anonymous ElMondoHummus said...

Whoa, everyone. Hold up. We don't actually know for certain whether the email truly came from Iraq, nor have we firm confirmation that the scam is based there either. The scammers may just be using Iraqi "characters" for their story. Note that the main "character" calls herself an Iraqi "refugee"; "she" (these irony quotes are getting numerous!) can be writing from anywhere claiming she fled the country. The only way to know where the email comes from is to track it down through the headers, and even then it'll probably only lead back to some proxied computer somewhere (Google for spammer "track-covering" techniques for what I mean by this). Or some open relay (ibid). Either way, it'd be a bunch of work with no real guarantee of success. And the only way to confirm where the scam is based out of is to actually engage in some "scammer baiting" (which I'm not entirely convinced is all that safe) to see if the baiter can trick some locational information out of the scammer ("Yes, I'll send something to your local Western Union. Where's that at??").

I'm not saying that it's impossible that this scam is based out of Iraq. I'm just pointing out that some of you all are assuming it is, that's all. If you think about it, it's not actually proven. Some of you guys are not questioning the base claims of Iraqi citizenship in the story itself. For all we know, once someone contacts the scammers, they'll say they fled to Jordan, or maybe even Europe somewhere (London? Amsterdam?) when in fact they're actually residents of that location. Who knows? All I'm saying is: Let's not jump to conclusions that this is actually based in Iraq, and for something like this, let's cast a critical eye on everything, including the small details. For all we know, the scammers could be a couple of Germans in Hamburg, or some idiot in London.

 
At 11:29 PM, December 20, 2005, Blogger neo-neocon said...

I agree that we have no idea who the real scammer or scammers are. I was actually going on the assumption that the person is not even an Iraqi, and is just using the story to appeal to a certain anti-American pro-Saddam audience.

 
At 9:55 PM, December 22, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

(which I'm not entirely convinced is all that safe)

I've actually seen an email log of someone who tried that, and got a really good laugh out of it.

I only assume they are based in Iraq on an intellectual basis, to decide what actions to take theoretically if they were.

But most Iraqi criminals aren't this sophisticated however, nor would terroists seem likely to gain much money by this route. They could still be backing it, but it doesn't seem their metier that is all.

It wouldn't do good to question any of the base claims of Iraqi citizenship, to do that I would have to believe a word in that email. Since I don't, there is really no need to question anything in it since I wouldn't believe any of it in the first place.

A hypothetical situation, however, would be useful in forming a plan. And that's really an intellectual exercise.

If this was from Europe, then America could do nothing. If this was from Iraq, then we could do something. Since I can't make any plans for Europe, but for Iraq, I make the hypothetical assumption that it is from Iraq. But I can't speak for anyone else, only myself.

 

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