Fraud Watch


 With the growth in popularity of the internet, con artists and criminals have found new ways to try to worm their way into your wallet.  We see new and old cons being played out against unsuspecting victims in the new arena of cyberspace.  Because it is so inexpensive to have a web presence today, it is actually easier for criminals to try to rob you from behind the safety of their computer screens than to confront you on the streets.  Internet fraud, identity theft and other computer crimes become more common every day. 

We thought it would be a good idea to create an educational page with pointers to help you steer clear of new scams as they're created.  Education is one of the best ways to prevent what could be financial disaster.  If you're aware of scams that aren't shown here, feel free to submit them.  Otherwise, please read through the listings to educate yourself and hopefully prevent the next victim being you!


  Fraud Watch Menu
AOL Spoofed Email Scam
Citi Bank Account Verification Scam
Counterfeit Check Scams
Ebay Account Verification Scams
Escrow Service Scams
Homeland Security Bank Scam
Humanitarian Call
Lottery Scams
MasterCard / Visa Scam
Monk Motors Scam
Nigerian Scam
Notice Of Bequest
PayPal Scams
Problems With Your Order Scams
Important Related Links 
Fraud Protection Tips



AOL Spoofed Email Scams 

There are two basic varieties of AOL scams right now.  The first is used to get you to give the sender your AOL username and password.  They then use your AOL account to send out spam emails until AOL shuts your account down for spamming (one victim reported that AOL told him his account sent out 7,000 emails in one night).  They could also use your information to commit other frauds, making it appear that you were the perpetrator.

The second type tells you that they tried to bill your account for your monthly fee, but the charges were rejected by your credit card company, probably due to an expired card.  They tell you that unless you click the link and provide updated information (username, password, credit card information, etc.) your account will be shut down within 24 hours.  The link you click on, though, doesn't take you to an AOL site - even though it looks absolutely identical to an AOL site.  So if you trustingly fill in all the blanks you have provided them with the information to take control of your AOL account, and even worse, your credit card information. 

You should consider any such email as fraudulent.  Go to AOL's customer service pages and make sure you have a valid phone number for AOL and then YOU call THEM.  That way, you know who you're talking to, and if you really do need to update your information, you can feel secure in giving out the information.  But don't do the opposite - if someone who claims to be from AOL calls you, hang up and call back to AOL using a phone number from their website.  Now you know better!

Just In!  A Third AOL Scam
This scam starts when you receive an official looking email supposedly from AOL verifying a purchase of something (reports of both flowers and pornography have been reported).  The email has a link to click if you believe this charge to be in error - which you would, since you didn't order flowers or pornography.  The link takes you to a very official looking website, identical in appearance to an AOL site, and lets you fill in your account information to report the error.  But, unfortunately it isn't an AOL site and you just sent your account information to a stranger, who has plans for your account, and your money if you provided credit card information.  Now you know better!



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Citi Bank Account Verification Scam

Here's a good one!  This email was sent to me telling me that I need to validate my account with Citi Bank (I don't even have one), and to make it look legitimate they copy a lot of the fraudulent email's content directly from Citi Bank's site.  As you can see, they do a pretty convincing job (there aren't even many words misspelled).

Never.  We repeat, never!  Never follow a link that you get in an email and provide any information to anybody.  The link that was provided in this email made it appear that you were being sent to an official Citi Bank site, but it sent you to a faked site.  If you follow this link and give them the information they request, you and your credit card company will be robbed.

Here's the email I got:


Online Banking


Protect yourself from Internet fraud

Financial institutions around the world have always been subject to attempts by criminals to try and defraud money from them and their customers. These attempts can occur in a number of ways (eg credit card fraud, telephone banking or Internet scams).

As a part of our ongoing commitment to provide the "Best Possible" service to all our Members, we are now requiring each Member to validate their accounts once per month.

To validate your personal CITI online banking account follow the link below:


These security measures are necessary to protect the integrity of your account. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you now, we know that in the long run this added security measure will help to keep your accounts protected at all times.

Two examples of common Internet scams include:

  • Attempting to steal a customer's login details by sending out emails which appear to be from a financial institution, and requesting personal details (eg Customer number and password)
  • Creating a website, which looks similar to a financial institution's, but acts as a 'ghost website' capturing customer details and using them to transact on the customer's account
CITI views all matters of security as serious. Following are a number of quick and easy methods to help you protect your details online.

Check you are connected to a legitimate CITI website
It is important for you to be certain that your browser has connected to the real CITI Internet Banking site.

Every time you connect to Internet Banking, the service sends your browser a piece of information called a 'digital certificate'. This certificate securely identifies the site you are connecting to, and is used to establish the encrypted session. You can view the contents of the certificate when you are connected. For Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.01 and above, the certificate details can be obtained by double-clicking on the Microsoft secure icon icon displayed on the status bar (bottom of your browser). For Netscape Communicator 4.77, click on the Netscape secure icon icon on the status bar and click the 'Page Info' button.
This certificate has been 'digitally signed' by Verisign, the most recognised issuer of digital certificates in the world. Most browser software is written to automatically recognise any certificate 'signed' by Verisign.
Make sure you check the fields of the certificate. The 'Issuer' field should contain a reference to Verisign. The 'Subject' field should always show the organisation as CITI Banking Corporation.

Each certificate also has a 'digital fingerprint' which is essentially a string of numbers. Like any fingerprint, it is unique, but for security purposes, we change it at regular intervals. You can verify the fingerprint by contacting the CITI Internet helpline on 1300 655 505.

If you have any concerns about the authenticity of our website contact us on 1300 655 505.

Check your email has come from CITI
It is important that you only act upon instructions and advice from legitimate CITI emails. Some criminals have access to certain technologies that allow them to send emails, which appear to be from CITI, but are in fact from the fraudsters.

You should be aware that all legitimate CITI emails use the same style, layout, terminology and language. You should also be aware of the following actions you can take to ensure your security:
  • CITI will never ask for your personal or login details by email
  • Under no circumstances should you send your personal details by return email
  • All CITI emails will have a reference or link to security information
  • Delete junk emails and don't open email attachments from strangers as they could contain malicious viruses
  • Familiarise yourself with the appearance of our emails. Always keep a copy of a legitimate email to compare against any suspicious looking emails
  • The language and text used will be professional, and use correct terminology and grammar

Please remember to always contact CITI on 1300 655 505 if you have any concerns about the authenticity of an email, or if you have received a suspicious looking email.

Protect your financial records

  • Always keep your tax records and other financial documents in a secure place
  • When throwing out documents make sure your tax file number is not visible
  • Don't disclose your account information over the phone unless you made the call yourself
  • Request your personal information be deleted from marketing databases
  • Be wary of emails/websites which ask you to provide your personal or account information - they may be from a fake company
  • Keep photocopies of your records and contact numbers of your financial institution in a secure place, so you can contact them immediately if you suspect fraud or theft
  • Ensure you check your bank statements for any transactions you didn't make
Protect your computer
  • Install appropriate anti virus software on your computer, and keep it updated
  • Update the anti-virus and firewall products with security patches or newer versions on a regular basis
  • Always sign out of Internet Banking and close the browser window
  • Be careful when using a public or shared computer (eg in an Internet cafe) and always ensure you log off and close your browser window
Protect your PC from viruses and other malicious software.

Keep your password safe

  • Don't use your Internet Banking password for other services (eg video account, hotmail password, mobile phone service)
  • Change your passwords regularly and never write them down

Guard your privacy
  • Ask what the privacy policy is for the companies you provide your personal/bank details to, and find out how they handle such information
  • Ensure these companies protect your privacy by collecting only what is necessary, and use this information only for reasons they disclose, ie they do not sell your personal details to marketing companies
If you suspect any misuse of your personal information, contact your financial institution immediately.


So now you see just how convincing these scam artists can be.  But look closely at this email.  See that the phone number is missing a digit?  And its not an 800 number? (Citi Bank wouldn't make you spend your own money to verify if a document was legitimate.)  And the words familiarize, recognize, recognized and organization are misspelled?

This helps us demonstrate how important it is that you always, always think before clicking.  You work hard for your money.  They want to rob you, and many, many people will be robbed by this scam but you don't have to because Now you know better!

If you were a victim of this scam you should first (immediately)  call Citi Bank:
Phone Web site
Citibank Online 1-800-374-9700
Citi® Cards 1-800-950-5114
Citibusiness Online 1-800-285-1709

Then monitor your account closely.  If you were robbed, report it to your local police department.  Unreported internet crimes perpetuate the problem.  While not all local departments have sufficient manpower or economic resources to try to enforce laws in cyberspace, they may be able to refer you to another entity who can deal with the crime.  For instance, some states maintain an internet fraud task force through their State Police.


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Counterfeit Check Scams

This one takes on two forms, both similar enough that they can be handled here.  This scam is perpetrated when you place an ad either online or in a newspaper to sell a big-ticket item like a car.  You're contacted by a party who will even pay your asking price.  In some variations they also offer to reward you monetarily for extra hassle because they represent an overseas buyer.  So you agree with all the arrangements and feel pretty good when you receive their check.  In some cases it is a commercial check, in other cases it is a certified check or a money order.  You take it to your bank and deposit it, and it is held for various periods of time in order for it to "clear".  So after this delay period the bank releases the money to you and you pay off your loan or go on a trip or whatever. 

In some variations of this scam, the cashier's check was for thousands more than the sale price, and you're supposed to wire the extra money to the shipping company that shipped your car overseas.  So you send them their fair share.  Except that after a month you get a notice from your bank that the check you deposited was, after all, counterfeit.  And they want their money back.  And they want it NOW.  So now you've lost your car, the bank is after you to cover the bad check, and maybe you've already run out and bought a new car, with a fresh payment book.  That's gonna leave a mark.......on your credit report.

Or in another variation of this scam the check that's sent is for many thousands of dollars more than the selling price.  The extra money is supposed to be returned to the buyer after the check clears.  They somehow explain how the check is for the wrong amount and can't be reissued, so they'll trust you to just return the extra amount.  Don't you hear alarm bells here????  By the time your bank tells you that the check was bogus and they want their money, you've already refunded to your buyer the "extra", except now it was YOUR money, not theirs that you sent. 

So how do you spot this scam BEFORE its too late?  Well as you'll learn while reading through all these scams listed here, it is just incredibly important that you exercise every possible caution to avoid being scammed:

  • Check out your buyer.  Maybe even go so far as to get a credit report on them.
  • Don't enter into high-risk transactions (foreign buyers, commercial or even certified checks).
  • Learn to spot the typical email formats used by scammers (all capital letters, many words misspelled, improper grammar) - remember, though, that they keep getting better, so their emails will, too.
  • If you're holding a check or money order, check out the bank its drawn on.  Call them.  Does the account actually exist?  Are there sufficient funds in the account to cover the check?  What?  You can't find a way to contact the bank, its almost like it doesn't exist?  It Doesn't!  The FDIC can tell you whether a bank is legitimate or not but they cannot guarantee that the check you're holding is any good.
  • Think about how easy it is with today's technology (i.e. color laser printers) to duplicate even a cashier's check.  Look for the security devices built into most checks today - watermarks, crisp, clear printing, security codes, etc.
  • If it is a money order or cashier's check, call the issuing bank or agency (a bank, American Express, the US Postal Service, etc.) and have them review the security codes as you read them off the financial instrument.
  • Above all else, remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

The only one who can protect you from scams like these is you.  We're trying to help by educating you to just how devious some of these people are.  Here's an article about a Reserve Police Officer who was nearly scammed.  So, Now you know better!

Another Variation - In another variation the scammer offers to wire the money directly into your bank account so there's no way that you can ripped off.  You just need to give them your bank and account information, and then wait a few days and the money will be in your account.  Except you find that they vacuumed your account for you.  Ooooops...  Now you know better!


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Ebay Account Verification Scams

A lot of these scams seem to be perpetrated by people for whom English is not their primary language and/or have a poor mastery of spelling and grammar.  This particular scam is so bad that you'd have to be pretty careless to fall for it.  Remember that image is extremely important to most companies.  They aren't going to send out an email that's riddled with misspellings and grammatical errors.  But its also important to point out that these scams have a tendency to improve over time, so you could receive a similar email that is perfectly done.  The key is that you learn to recognize that this is an attempt to get me to follow a link from an email and enter my account information, and that you just don't do it!  Here's the scam letter I received.  They did such a poor job that even the graphics didn't come through correctly:

From collectibles to cars, buy and sell all kinds of items on eBay

Dear Ebay user,
Dear valued eBay member, It has come to our attention that your eBay Billing Information records are out of date. That requires you to update the Billing Information If you could please take 5-10 minutes out of your online experience and update your billing records, you will not run into any future problems with eBay's online service. However, failure to update your records will result in account termination. Please update your records in maximum 24 hours. Once you have updated your account records, your eBay session will not be interrupted and will continue as normal. Failure to update will result in cancellation of service, Terms of Service (TOS) violations or future billing problems.

Please click here to update your billing records.  (I left the link, but made it non functional.  Instead of sending you to Ebay, it sent you to a site called ebays-info.)

Thank you for your time!
Marry Kimmel,
eBay Billing Department team.

As outlined in our User Agreement, eBay will periodically send you information about site changes and enhancements. Visit our Privacy Policy and User Agreement if you have any questions.

Copyright 2002 eBay Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners.
eBay and the eBay logo are trademarks of eBay Inc


Copyright © 1995-2004 eBay Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners.
Use of this Web site constitutes acceptance of the eBay
User Agreement and Privacy Policy.



Even though this one was poorly done, there are still going to be some people who fall for it.  Either they're just too trusting or perhaps English isn't their primary language either, who knows.  But the good thing is that you don't have to fall for it because Now You Know Better!



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Here's a new one that I got today (5/5/2004).  They've done a fairly good job of making it look official, but look at the misspelled words.  Also, if you fall for this one and click on the link it doesn't take you to Ebay.  It takes you to an address at - THIS IS NOT AN EBAY SITE.  But they do want your money - all of it!

From collectibles to cars, buy and sell all kinds of items on eBay

***Urgent Safeharbor Department Notice***

Fraud Alert ID : 00626654


You have received this email because you or someone else had used your account to make fake bids on eBay. For security purposes, we are required to open an investigation into this matter. To speed up this process, you are required to verify your eBay account by following the link below.

Please save this fraud alert id for your reference.

When submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected both online and off-line. When our registration/order form asks users to enter sensitive information (such as credit card number and/or social security number), that information is encrypted and is protected with the best encryption software in the industry - SSL.

Please Note - If your account informations are not updated within the next 72 hours, then we will assume this account is fraudulent and will be cancelled. We apologize for this inconvenience, but the purpose of this verification is to ensure that your eBay account has not been fraudulently used and to combat fraud.

We apreciate your support and understading, as we work together to keep eBay a safe place to trade.

Thank you for your patience in this matter.

Regards, Safeharbor Department (Trust and Safety Department)
eBay Inc.

Please do not reply to this e-mail as this is only a notification mail sent to this address cannot answered

Copyright 2004 eBay Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners.
eBay and the eBay logo are trademarks of eBay Inc. is located at Hamilton Avenue, San Jose, CA 95125

If you get this email, the best thing to do is to turn it over to Ebay and let their fraud team dig into it.  But if you have become a victim of this fraud, DO file a police report with your local police department.  They may or may not have the resources to attempt to tackle internet crimes, but if they don't they should be able to turn the case over to someone who can.  The only way that law enforcement funds will become available is for lawmakers to understand the scope of the problem.  And the only way they'll understand is if they see the numbers and understand that their constituents are being victimized.  Always be careful with your money and your personal information, but if you ARE victimized, report it!

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 Here's a good example of how things evolve...  This one is identical in nature to the one a couple of items up.  But notice how well it was done.  No grammatical errors.  No misspellings.  A very nice piece of work, if you look past the point that they're trying to use it to steal your money.  I'll make the point one more time....  Never, ever, ever click on a link in an email and then enter any personal information.  You can't tell by looking at it, but clicking on this link does NOT take you to an eBay site.  The guy at the other end of this link wants your money!  But he shouldn't get yours because Now You Know Better!
eBay Home My Site Sign

Dear valued eBay member,
It has come to our attention that your eBay Billing Information records are out of date. This requires that you update your information within 7 days of receiving this notice. Failure to do so may result in suspension or termination of your account privileges. Please follow the link below to update your records. Once updated, your eBay experience will continue as normal without any interruption in service.
Please click here to update your records:

Thank you for your time!
Marry Kimmel,
eBay Billing Department team.

As outlined in our User Agreement, eBay will periodically send you information about site changes and enhancements.

Visit our Privacy Policy and User Agreement if you have any questions.


My eBay |  Site Map | Browse  |  Sell  |  Services  |  Search  |  Help  |  Community


Copyright © 1995-2004 eBay Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Designated trademarks and brands are the property of
their respective owners.
Use of this Web site constitutes acceptance of the
eBay User Agreement and Privacy Policy.
Escrow Service Scams

People who buy big-ticket items from strangers often use an escrow service to assist with the transaction.  The theory is that the buyer sends their money to the escrow service who notifies the seller that they have the funds.  The seller ships the purchased item to the buyer, who has a specified number of days to protest to the escrow service that they never received the item or that the item is defective or not as promised.  Assuming the seller is satisfied, the escrow service keeps either a flat fee or a percentage of the sale price, and remits the remainder to the seller.

This same concept has been used successfully with the creation of online escrow services to protect big-ticket purchases through the internet.  But now scam artists have found this to be a very profitable way to take your money - thousands of dollars at a time.  They're setting up websites providing fake escrow services, taking the money of unsuspecting buyers.  Sometimes they'll get 20 victims or more before they're discovered and they flee that website host only to start another with another provider under a different name.

Imagine, you've scrimped and saved and finally have the money saved to buy your wife that little red sports car she's dreamed about forever.  And you've found a price from an online seller that's just too good to be true (in fact, it IS too good to be true).  So you send your check for $25,000 to the escrow service that the seller specified you should use and you wait for them to notify the seller that your check cleared. And you wait, and you wait, and you wait.......  But in reality there never was a little red sports car, the seller's information is faked, and the escrow service was a scam set up by the fictitious seller to get your money - your hard-earned $25,000 is gone.  Up in smoke.

This scam is now being played out across the country.  Real people, smart people like you, being careful and using an escrow service to protect yourself, trying to do everything possible to prevent becoming a victim.  And they still had their money stolen.  Unpreventable?  Not if you know how to protect yourself:

If you're buying online and need to use an escrow service remember these tips to help protect yourself:

  • Carefully shop for an escrow service.  Many of the online auction houses will recommend an escrow service.  But don't take anything for granted - check the service out.
  • Use a search engine to search for the company you're considering using.  Are others complaining about being ripped off by them?
  • If the website lists phone numbers and addresses, verify them.. Call the phone number and see who answers.  Call the Better Business Bureau in the city where they're listed and see if they've ever heard of them.  If the website doesn't list a physical address and contact phone numbers, run from this deal!
  • If the escrow service is not on US soil, run from the deal!  If you lose your money, who is going to help you get it back?
  • If the seller is intent on using only a particular escrow service, run away quickly.
  • Remember that today's scammers do an excellent job - even going so far as to copy a legitimate escrow service's website.  You need to protect your money by being suspicious and thoroughly checking out any service before using it.  Now you know better!

Oh, and before we leave this topic, its important to point out that its not always the seller pulling the scam, so even if you're selling something you need to watch for this scam.  Lets say you're tired of your baseball card collection valued at $5,000 so you post it for sale online.  And so a prospective buyer makes contact and you reach an agreement to sell it to him. He only uses the Acme Escrow Service, and you approve the deal.  You get an official looking notice from Acme saying that your buyer's check for $5,000 has cleared the bank and that you should ship your collection.  

So you pack it all up real nice and ship it off to Timbuktu and wait to get your money from the escrow service.  And you wait, and you wait,......  Because your buyer was the same guy who set up the fake escrow service, and now he has your prized Mickey Mantle baseball card in HIS collection.  Now you know better!


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Homeland Security Bank Scam
This scam starts when you receive a fairly official email which says its from your bank or a federal bank regulating agency.  They claim that they have detected illegal activity with your bank account, and they require that you click on a link to submit information that will supposedly verify your identity, at which time they will restore the FDIC insurance on your money.  The text of the scam will be similar to this:

To whom it may concern;
     In cooperation with the Department Of Homeland Security, Federal, State and Local Governments your account has been denied insurance from the Federal Deposit Insurance  Corporation due to suspected violations of the Patriot Act.
     While we have only a limited amount of evidence gathered on your account at this time it is enough to suspect that currency violations may have occurred in your account and due to this activity we have withdrawn Federal Deposit Insurance on your account until we verify that your account has not been used in a violation of the Patriot Act.
       As a result Department Of Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge has advised the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to suspend all deposit insurance on your account until such time as we can verify your identity and your account information.    
     Please verify through our IDVerify below.  This information will be checked against a federal government database for identity verification. This only takes up to a minute and when we have verified your identity you will be notified of said verification and all suspensions of insurance on your account will be lifted.

     [spoofed URLs go here]

     Failure to use IDVerify below will cause all insurance for your account to be terminated and all records of your account history will be sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington D.C. for analysis and verification. Failure to provide proper identity may also result in a visit from Local, State or Federal Government or Homeland Security Officials.
     Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.
     Donald E. Powell
     Chairman Emeritus FDIC


Now normally you'd probably not fall for something like this, but because its supposedly from the government or your bank, you might let your otherwise good judgment lapse and click on the link.  If you do, you will provide the thief at the other end of the scam with enough information to steal your identity - and your money.  Now you know better!


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Humanitarian Call
OK, we've got to give this one an award for sounding eloquent. But they still didn't mask the fact that they're offering you - a complete stranger to them - an opportunity to make an enormous amount of money if you'll just help them "uplift the down-trodden and the less-privileged". OK, its a unique approach but you need to recognize the "money for nothing" tease they're using for what it is - an attempt to blind you with greed enough that you drop your guard. Here's the email:

From: "Robert Barr" 
Sent: Monday, February 19, 2007 10:45 PM
Subject: Humanitarian Call..........Reply Immediately.

From: Lady Rita Mosley,
4 Old Church Street,
Chelsea, SW3, England.

Here writes Lady Rita Mosley, suffering from cancerous ailment.I used to
be married to Sir David Mosley English man (Deceased).My husband was into
private practice all his life before his death.My husband and I made a vow
to uplift the down-trodden and the less-privileged individuals as he had
passion for people who can not help themselves due to physical disability
or financial predicament.I can adduce this to the fact that he needed a
Child from this relationship,which never came.

When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of 20 Million Great
Britain Pounds Sterling which were derived from his vast estates and
investment in capital market with his bank here in UK.Presently, this
money is still with the Bank.Recently,my Doctor told me that I have
limited days to live due to the cancerous problems I am suffering
from.Though what bothers me most is the stroke that I have in addition to
the cancer.With this hard reality that has befallen my family and me,I
have decided to donate this fund to you because I do not have any child
that will inherit this money.

please,all i want from you is to help me use this gift which comes from my
late husband effort to establish a charity home called "Mosley Charity
Foundation" for widows,and persons who prove to be genuinely handicapped
financially.Due to my ill health, i cannot go further than this.Thus,I
want you to assure me that you will act just as I have stated herein.Hope
to hear from you.You can contact me through my private email address:

Lady Rita Mosley.

Nice, huh? Kinda gets you right........ in your bank account which is what she'll ask you for if you reply to her. But you won't do that, because Now you know better!

A special thanks to Ms. Bloomingdale for submitting this Humanitarian Call Scam.


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Lottery Scams
This next one is another attempt to get you to drop your guard by promising a huge payoff. Some people - good, decent people like you and me - will be unable to resist the temptation of all this promised money and will fall victim to this email, even though this one has enough flaws it should be easy to spot as a fraudulent offer. Here's the email:
The National Lottery
Abbey Street Lower,
Dublin 1, 
Ireland(Customer Services)
Ref: IR/9420X2/69
Batch: 074/05/ZY368
Dear Winner,
Compliment of the season to you overthere,
We happily announce to you the first draw (#1007) of the IRISH LOTTERY online 
Sweepstakes International program held On Wednesday 10th Day of January,
2007.These Rollover commenced at exactly 8:00pm and ended around 11.00pm my

The lottery Gaming Board was provided with several email addresses from 
the world wide web by Microsoft international.In which your email address was
with reference number : IR/9420X2/69,Batch No: 074/05/ZY368 ticket number:
56475600545 188 with Serial number: 5368/02 and this
earn you the total sum of one million three hundred fifty  
thousand euro (1,350,000Eu)

You could claim this via our chief 
coordinator of this Gaming Board in the person of

Mark O'Meara.
Email: (Withheld to protect you from this scam) 
Telephone:+44 701114 7858

Once again congratulation from all members of staff.

Please note that your reference number and batch number should be kept 
and provided on request.

The Irish National Lottery Inc© 1994-2007. 
All rights reserved. Terms of Service - Guidelines


For security reasons, you are advised to keep your winning information
confidential untill your claim is processed and your money remitted to you in
whatever manner you deem fit to claim your prize. This is part of our
precautionary measure to avoid double claiming and unwarranted abuse of this
program. Please be warned!!!

OK, now lets take a look at this offer... They claim they got your email address from Microsoft. Guess what: Microsoft doesn't give out email addresses to lotteries or anyone else. Strike One. So then if you do an online search for the "Irish Lottery Online Sweepstakes International" the number one hit is NOT this lottery's official website - because there is no official Irish Lottery Online Sweepstakes. Instead the number one hit in the search results is a warning from someone who got the same scam offer. Strike Two! Then, if you look at the sloppy job they did with their message - grammatical, spelling and formatting problems - you just have to believe that if you ever win a sweepstakes, and for whatever reason they elect to notify you by email, they'll have somebody type it up professionally. Strike Three! The average person reading this will think "Nobody's going to fall for that!", but statistics show that some of the people who get this in their inbox are going to click on the link and supply these thieves with the information needed to access their bank accounts. It doesn't have to be you because:
Now you know better!

A special thanks to Ms. Bloomingdale for submitting this Lottery Scam.

Here's another one supposedly sponsored by an Association of software producers, claiming that your email address was selected out of some 20 million others. Aren't you lucky!!! NOT!!!

Government Accredited Licensed Promoters,
REF: WE67/4360/34
BATCH: 11/4578/GN


We are pleased to inform you of the result of the Lottery Winners International programs held on the 13th of Febuary,2007.Your e-mail address attached to ticket number 7-1-8-36-4-22, with serial number 7321410,batch number 151085135,lottery ref number 6376527711 and drew lucky numbers 4-9-17-36-44-78 which consequently won in the second category, you have therefore been approved for a lump sum pay out of US$5,000,000.00 (FIVE MILLION UNITEDSTATE DOLLARS)


Due to mix up of some numbers and names, we ask that you keep your winning information confidential until your claims has been processed and your money Remitted to you. This is part of our security protocol to avoid double claiming and unwarranted abuse of this program by some participants. All participants were selected through a computer ballot system drawn from over 40,000 company and 20,000,000 individual email addresses and names from all over the world. This promotional program takes place every year. This lottery was promoted and sponsored by Association of software producers. we hope with part of your winning,you will take part in our next year 20 million Europe international lottery.

We also wish to bring to your notice our End of Year (2007) high stakes where you stand a chance of winning up to 13 million ponudS, we hope that with a part of your prize you will participate and to begin your claims process please contact your claims agent.

Contact Person:Mr Van Gogh

Yours truly,
LaRoche Ickenroth.

OK, lets look at this email... First, if you enter Lottery Winners International into a search engine, the first response is an informational page from a reputable anti-virus firm stating that this is a scam. Second, the number of typos has to tip you off. If you ever win the lottery and they decide to email you about it, you can bet the notice you get will be very polished and professional, not this very poor job. Third, even if it was a real lottery, don't you think the "Association of software producers" would mention the company names? The only reason they would hold such a lottery would be to advertise their names, but there are no software company names listed here. This one is sloppy, so lets hope you don't get blinded by a false promise of big money and make contact with these scammers. Now you know better!

A special thanks to T M Cusimano for submitting the above Lottery Scam.

The MasterCard / Visa Scam
This one is a little different, in that the thief already has a good deal of information about you.  They know your full name, your address, which credit card you have - even the account number of your card.  What they don't have - and what they need in order to use your card information online - is the three-digit security code on the back of your card.  If you fall for this scam, you will give them the information they need to use your card.  This is the information that I found on this scam:

My husband was called on Wednesday from "VISA" and I was called on Thursday from "MasterCard". It worked like this: Person calling says, "This is Carl Patterson (any name) and I'm calling from the Security and Fraud department at VISA. My Badge number is 12460. Your card has been flagged for an unusual purchase pattern, and I'm calling to verify. This would be on your VISA card issued by 5/3 bank. Did you purchase an Anti-Telemarketing Device for $497.99 from a marketing company based in Arizona?"

When you say "No". The caller continues with, "Then we will be issuing a credit to your account. This is a company we have been watching and the charges range from $297 to $497, just under the $500 purchase pattern that flags most cards. Before your next statement, the credit will be sent to (gives you your address), is that correct?"

You say, "Yes". The caller continues . . . "I will be starting a fraud investigation. If you have any questions, you should call the 800 number listed on your card 1-800-VISA and ask for Security. You will need to refer to this Control #". Then gives you a 6 digit number. "Do you need me to read it again?"

Caller then says he "needs to verify you are in possession of your card. Turn the card over. There are 7 numbers; first 4 are 1234 (whatever) the next 3 are the security numbers that verify you are in possession of the card. These are the numbers you use to make internet purchases to prove you have the card. Read me the 3 numbers." Then he says "That is correct. I just needed to verify that the card has not been lost or stolen, and that you still have your card. Do you have any other questions? Don't hesitate to call back if you do."

You actually say very little, and they never ask for or tell you the card number. But after we were called on Wednesday, we called back within 20 minutes to ask a question. Are we glad we did! The REAL VISA security dept. told us it was a scam and in the last 15 minutes a new purchase of $497.99 WAS put on our card.

Long story made short. We made a real fraud report and closed the VISA card and they are reissuing us a new number. What the scam wants is the 3 digit number and that once the charge goes through, they keep charging every few days. By the time you get your statement, you think the credit is coming, and then its harder to actually file a fraud report.


What makes this more remarkable is that on Thursday, I got a call from "Jason Richardson of MasterCard" with a word for word repeat of the VISA Scam. This time I didn't let him finish. I hung up.

We filed a police report (as instructed by VISA), and they said they are taking several of these reports daily and to tell friends, relatives and coworkers.

There are a couple of things that stand out about this one.  First, it indicates the importance of being careful with your account information.  Don't toss old records in the trash without shredding them.  Don't leave your wallet laying open on the checkout counter.  Don't leave your mail sitting outside in the mailbox for days at a time, etc.  Second, it points out how important it is to think before giving out any information about yourself, your family or your financial information over the phone - especially if you didn't initiate the phone call.  Now you know better!


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The Monk Motors Scam
First, an important note: Please do NOT confuse this scam with Monk's Heath Motors which is a legitimate car dealership in Great Britain. They have nothing to do with this scam!

This scam will come to you in the form of an email and is supposedly from a Japanese used car import/export association. Their offer is to pay you 10% of all payments you get funnelled to them for the sale of their cars in North America. I get the sense that some of the misspellings in their email are intended to make you think that it is some form of Japanese accent or translation. In any case, lets take a look at this very special offer... First, unless you happen to have been in contact with a Japanese used car company, have bought a Japanese car, or have relatives in Japan how on earth would this Japanese Used Car Import/Export Association have heard of you and reached the conclusion that you would be a good candidate to become a "Trusted and Truthful Representative"? Why would a national association be using Yahoo email accounts? Wouldn't a professional association do up a fancy email with no misspellings if they were a legitimate company? And considering all the legalities and complexities of developing a business relationship with an international partner, do you really think they would start down that path with someone they don't know? This is very poorly done, but statistics show that there are people out there who will fall for this - whether the motivation is need or greed, someone is going to try to make money off this proposal:

Japanese Used Motor
Vehicle Importer & Exporters Association
2-17-19, Mishimaoka, Ibaraki-city,
OSAKA 5670021, JAPAN.

I am Mr. Chen Tachiro of MONKY'S INC / Japanese Used Motor Vehicle Exporters Association, We are the best largest exporter processing zone operator in Singapore Appointed by the land transport authority. We offer the best price and deliver the best quality of used vehicles from Singapore

These days, there is a lot of demands from world wide buyers, and private customers in Europe, USA, Canada, united kingdom and some part of Asia, for Japanese performance vehicles, and As you knows now the internet is one of the most easiest, and reliable tool for searching vehicles without going abroad and buying the vehicles. The world has been changing every day, and the ways of buying vehicles are also changing.

Due to this fact we are searching for a Trusted and Truthful Representatives who can Help us establish a medium of getting to our costumers in America, Canada, Europe and some part of Asia, as well as making payments through them to us. If you are interested in transacting business with us we will be Very glad.

You would be paid 10% of every payment made through you us. Subject to Your satisfactory we shall be introducing you to our costumers in America, Canada, Europe and some part of Asia.

Please if you are interested kindly contact: -
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Mr. Yasuhiro Totoki.
(Personnel Manager)

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
You are advice to provide him with the following information:

Fax number:

Then he will direct you on the next step to take.

I am looking forward to hearing from you in soon,

Sincerely, Yours,
Chen Tachiro ,

OK, look. By anyone's standards this one just doesn't ring true. The average Joe, with no training in law enforcment, should see this one as what it is from a mile away. And I hope statistics are wrong in this case because some poor soul who has been blinded by greed is about to get cleaned out by a shyster who's too lazy to put their scam together well. At least it doesn't have to be you because

Now you know better!

A special thanks to Ms. Bloomingdale for submitting this Monk Motors Scam.


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The Nigerian Scam
This one has been around forever - even before the internet.  It is referred to as the Nigerian Scam because most of the time the writer claims to be a bank or government employee somewhere in Nigeria.  There are a lot of variations of this scam, though, so it may originate in yet some other 3rd world country.  The basic concept is that you get an email from a high-ranking bank or government official claiming to be in control of a large amount of money left unclaimed in the bank after the death of the account holder or by some other misfortune.  Supposedly the writer can't touch the money because they're an employee.  But if you're willing to enter into a discreet business relationship with them, they'll be kind enough to deposit a good portion of the money into your bank account as you help them get the money out of their country.  The only problem is there is no dead rich person, no large some of money, and instead of you getting a pile of money just for letting them use your account for the transaction, you find that they have neatly vacuumed your account for you - it is now empty.  Here's a sample email:

TEL: 234 1 7591519 FAX: 234 1 7590904.



Dear Sir,

I am John elKurata.Member contract award committee of the above department. Terms of Reference

My term of reference involves the award of contracts to multinational companies.

My office is saddled with the responsibility of contract award, screening, categorization and prioritization of projects embarked upon by Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) as well as feasibility studies for selected projects and supervising the project consultants involved. A breakdown of the fiscal expenditure by this office as at the end of the last fiscal quarter of 1999 indicates that DPR paid out a whooping sum of US$736M(Seven Hundred And Thirty Six Million, United States Dollars) to successful contract beneficiaries. The DPR is now compiling beneficiaries to be paid for the first Quarter of 2002.

The crux of this letter is that the finance/contract department of the DPR deliberately over -invoiced the contract value of the various contracts awarded. In the course of disbursements, this department has been able to accumulate the sum of US$38.2M(Thirty Eight Million, two hundred Thousand U.S Dollars) as the over-invoiced sum. This money is currently in a suspense account of the DPR account with the Debt Reconciliation Committee (DRC). We now seek to process the transfer this fund officially as contract payment to you as a foreign contractor, who will be fronting for us as the beneficiary of the fund. In this way we can facilitate these funds into your nominated account for possible investment abroad. We are not allowed as a matter of government policy to operate any foreign account to transfer this fund into.

However, for your involvement in assisting us with this transfer into your nominated account we have evolved a sharing formula as follows:
(1) 20% for you as the foreign partner
(2) 75% for I and my colleagues
(3) 5% will set aside to defray all incidental expenses both Locally and Internationally during the course of this transaction.

We shall be relying on your advice as regard investment of our share in any business in your country. Be informed that this business is genuine and 100% safe considering the high-power government officials involved. Send your private fax/telephone numbers. Upon your response we shall provide you with further information on the procedures. Feel free to call the undersign on Tel: 234 1 7591519 or send response by Fax: 234-1-7590904 expecting your response immediately.

Looking forward to a good business relationship with you.


Mr.John elKurata

Remember, this one takes on many different flavors - its from an attorney, a high placed bank official, a widow, a high-placed government official, etc. etc. etc.  They key is that they've somehow identified you as the best candidate to help them because of your reputation for honesty (all the way over to Nigeria, Zaire, the Congo, or wherever the letter is from).  They need your help to move the money out of their country into your safe hands, all quiet and hush-hush so you won't even have to pay taxes on it.  In the end, if you fall for their scam, they will take all the money you're willing to give them.  Now you know better!

Just In!

Now they've added a personal touch - I got this in my email today (2/12/2004):

DEAR Fleckenstein,

I am barrister LEWIS JOHN, a solicitor at law. I am the personal attorney to Mr.Mark Fleckenstein, a national of your country, who used to work with shell development company in Nigeria and as well a one time secret agent in transfering of money overseas for the Late head of state of Nigeria {Late Gen. Sani Abacha}. Before his death On the 21st of April 2002 {my client, his wife and their three children were involved in a car accident along Badagry Express Road in which all occupants of the motor died}.

My client deposited as family belongings in a CONSIGNMENT {i.e jewelries} the sum of $26 Million in a citi security and finance company here in Nigeria and from there to citi royal exchange abroad for himself, with the hope of transferring it to his country as soon as he is on leave.

 Since his death I have made several enquiries to your embassy to locate any of my clients extended relatives this has also proved unsuccessful. After these several unsuccessful attempts, I decided to trace his last name, to locate any member of his family hence I contacted you.

I have contacted you to assist in repartrating this consignment which is money left behind by my client before they getconfisicated or declared unknown by the security company where this huge deposits were lodged. The Citi ExchageTrust Finance Company where the deceased had deposited this consignment has issued me a notice to provide the next of kin or have the consignment confisicated within the next ten official working days.

Since I have been unsuccesfull in locating the the relatives for over 1 year now I seek your consent to present you as the next of kin to the deceased since you have the same last name so that the proceeds of this deposit valued at $26 million dollars can be handed over to you and then you and me with my two collegues can share the money. 60% to us and 40% to you. I will manipulate the necessary legal documents that can be used to back up any claim we may make.

 All I require is your honest cooperation to enable us see that this deal went through. I guarantee that this will be executed under a legitimate time arrangement that will protect you from any breach of the law. Please get in touch with me by my email to enable us
discuss further . 
Best Regards


(I left their spelling and grammatical errors intact for your reading pleasure....)

As you can see, they're adapting all the time in hopes that a new approach will net them new suckers.  But don't be fooled just because they address you by name.  Its still the same old scam.  And, now you know better!

Oooops!  Why should Nigeria have all the fun....


I am Mr.Wang Qin, credit officer of Hang Seng Bank Ltd. I have an urgent and very confidential business proposition for you.

On August 6, 1999, a British Oil consultant/contractor with the Chinese Solid Minerals Corporation, Mr. Pavel Kepak made a numbered time (Fixed) Deposit for twelve calendar months, valued at US$28,000,000.00 (Twenty-eight Million Dollars only) in my branch. Upon maturity,I sent a routine notification to his forwarding address but got no reply.

After a month, we sent a reminder and finally we discovered from his contract employers, the Hong Kong Solid Minerals Corporation that Mr.Pavel Kepak died from an automobile accident. On further investigation, I found out that he died without making a WILL, and all attempts to trace his next of kin was fruitless.

I therefore made further investigation and discovered that Mr. Pavel Kepak did not declare any kin or relations in all his official documents, including his Bank Deposit paperwork in my Bank. This sum of US$28,000,000.00 is still sitting in my Bank and the interest is being rolled over with the principal sum at the end of each year. No one will ever come forward to claim it. According to Laws of Hong Kong, at the expiration of 5 (five) years, the money will revert to the ownership of the Hong Kong Government if nobody applies to claim the fund.

Consequently, my proposal is that I will like you as a foreigner to stand in as the next of kin to Mr. Pavel Kepak so that the fruits of this old man's labor will not get into the hands of some corrupt government officials.This is simple, I will like you to provide immediately your full names and address so that the attorney will prepare the necessary documents and affidavits that will put you in place as the next of kin.

The money will be paid into your account for us to share in the ratio of 65% for me and 30% for you and 5% for Expenses Incurred in the course of the transaction . There is no risk at all as all the paperwork for this transaction will be done by the attorney and with my position as the credit officer guarantees the successful execution of this transaction. If you are interested, please reply immediately to my email box, [withheld], Upon your response, I shall then provide you with more details and relevant documents that will help you understand the transaction. 

You should observe utmost confidentiality, and rest assured that this transaction would be most profitable for both of us because I shall require your assistance to invest my share in your country. 

Awaiting your urgent reply.

Thanks and regards. 

Mr. Qin Wang.

I'm sure by now you recognize by now a common theme here - money for nothing... Right...  Now you know better!

Oooops!  Why not South Africa while we're at it....

Dear Partner,


The South Africa economy has witnessed a steady growth since the end of Apartheid. Within the Ministry of Energy & Mineral Resources where I worked as director of Auditing and Project Implementation, Mining and Quarrying alone contributes 12.3% GDP (R25.9Billion), Gold made up R19.9Billion of the yearly export while Base metals and other mineral products contributeR6.7Billion and R5.0Billion respectively. This figures excludes Diamond, which is quoted separately.

The Government have continuously strived to improve and maintain good relationship with foreign governments and Non-Governmental financial agencies by ensuring payments for all debts owed to foreign contractors. As a matter of fact, the Government have sponsored several trade delegation overseas to improve and attract foreign investments to South Africa. 

I write to solicit your partnership in a matter I believe will be of mutual benefit to us. This would require your trust and capability to work with me with your genuine cooperation according to instructions. I and two other colleagues involved in this transaction are still in active government service with the Ministry of Mines & Mineral Resources and we are in dire need of a foreign partner to assist us in the receipt and investment of US$14,500,000.00 (Fourteen Million Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars).

The key issue is the transfer of the said sum to an account that will be provided by you for this purpose for safekeeping and subsequent investment in a profitable venture. 

We are ready to go into an agreement with you regarding your percentage in this transaction. It does not matter whether or not you own a company, we shall guide you on what to do. The basis will be that a major company won a contract and subcontracted it to you. More often, big trading companies and firms of unrelated fields win contracts and subcontract to more specialized firms for execution.

We shall follow strictly all the legal procedures entailed in our laws and international laws in transferring the funds to you. The source of the fund is legitimate and authoritative; our caucus extends from my Ministry (Energy & Mineral Resources) to the Ministry of Finance. It is pertinent to know that under the South African Government Service Conduct of Code Civil servants are not allowed to operate or own a bank account overseas, hence your importance as a foreign partner.I have reposed my confidence in you and hope you will not disappoint me. Should you be willing to assist positively with a common goal, endeavour to contact me immediately through my confidential e-mail address, [withheld] .

I await in anticipation for your fullest co-operation.

Best regards,

Dr. Ray Zaza

Here's a slightly new approach where they've taken an event in the past and slightly modified the facts in an attempt to gain legitimacy for their scam. In this case, they've used a real plane crash and the name of a passenger who died in the crash to try to fool you into thinking this offer is different. But you need to recognize this as what it is - a pack of lies intended to separate you from your money:

(A special thanks to Ms. Bloomingdale for submitting this variation of the Nigerian Scam)

From Spain this time....

From The Desk of Manuel Jimeneze
General Auditor, Madrid Spain.
Private Email :( manueljimenezs@withheld)

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am Mr.Manuel Jimeneze the general auditor of a bank in spain. There is this floating funds which is to the tune of Seven Million Euros (€7,000,000.00 Euros) Which as been floating in this A/C nº 5005874BS1000 since 2000 after the death of the true owner of the funds Late Mr. John Cuthbertson, an American who was a private business man unfortunately lost his life in the plane crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261 which crashed on January 31st 2000, including his wife and only daughter. You can read more about the crash on visiting these sites below.

I just came across his file again when I was auditing all the credit account, and I find out that nobody has ever come on behalf of the Late Mr. John Cuthbertson as his next of kin to claim the funds. And I have been monitoring this account since I discovered this information.

In this case I have concluded to contact you if you are reliable to execute this transaction with me, then I will instruct you on how to claim as the next of kin to the late Mr. John Cuthbertson, so that the funds could be transferred to your overseas A/C, if only you can co-operate with me.

After the transaction is being successful I will come to your country to collect my own share which is 55% for me and 45% for you, feel free to give your own opinion on this transaction modality if you wish. Please contact me through my private email. ( send to me the following information


I await your soonest response.

Mr.Manuel Jimeneze
General Auditor, Madrid Spain

Private Email :(manueljimenezs@withheld)

Surely by now, You Know Better!


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Notice of Bequest Scams
We have recently been given a "Notice of Bequest" that appears to be along the lines of, but a more basic approach than the Nigerian Scams. A sample is below. Like most of these scams, it uses the false promise of a large sum of money to try to get you to drop your guard long enough to provide them with what they really want - your bank account information.

101 New Bridge Street
London EC4V 6JA


On behalf of the Trustees and Executor of the estate of Late Engr. Lurther Schultz, I once again try to notify you as my earlier letter returned undelivered. I hereby attempt to reach you again by this same email address on the WILL.

I wish to notify you that Late Engr. Lurther Schultz made you a beneficiary to his WILL.

He left the sum of twenty two five hundred thousand United States Dollars ($22,500.000.00 USD) to you in the codicil and last testament to his WILL.

This may sound strange and unbelievable to you, but it is real and true. Being a widely travelled man, he must have been in contact with you in the past or simply you were recommended to him by one of his numerous friends abroad who wished you good.

Engr. Lurther Schultz until his death was a member of theHelicopter Society and the Institute of Electronic & Electrical Engineers. He had a very good heart and was a philantropist.His great philanthropy earned him numerous awards during his life time.

Late Engr. Lurther Schultz died on the 13th day of December,2004 at the age of 80 years, and his WILL is now ready for execution.

According to him this money is to support your humanitarian activities and to help the poor and the needy in our society.

Please if I reach you this time as I am hopeful, endeavor to get back to me as soon as possible to enable me conclude my job.I hope to hear from you in no distant time through the email address below.


Sincerely yours,



OK, now honestly... Have you ever heard of the unfortunate Lurther Schultz? Look in your address book. Is he in there? Nope. Know why? You didn't know him and he didn't know you. So then, that begs the question, why would a complete stranger leave you even $22.50, let alone $22,500,000? And why would such a notice come from a supposed barrister with no more business sense than to use email to notify you of such an important event? Things just aren't done this way, in any country, at any time, for any reason. At the very least you'll receive official documents via real mail, and probably with copies of supporting documentation. You will not get an email. The money does not exist. The "barrister" is a phony. And this scam, if you fall for it will end up with you losing all your savings. Statistics tell us that somebody's going to fall for even this crude scam, after being blinded by all that money. But it doesn't have to be you, because

Surely by now, You Know Better!

A special thanks to T M Cusimano for submitting the above Notice of Bequest Scam.


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PayPal Scams
PayPal is a service that allows you to send money via the web to almost anyone using your credit card or check, but without giving the person you're sending the money to your banking or credit card information.  It is commonly used to pay for online auction purchases.  

Recently there have been fraudulent emails being sent that indicate that the credit card that you registered with PayPal is about to expire, or that they've had a server crash and need you to resubmit your information, or that your account has been inactive and you need to resubmit your information or risk being purged from their system.  In each case the email that you receive appears to be authentic.  The thieves use PayPal's graphics and logo, many of the links in the email actually send you to the PayPal site.  But the link that you click on to go to the website to resubmit your information doesn't take you to a PayPal website.  Instead it takes you to the con's website where you're asked to provide enough information for them to assume your identity, max out your card, and cause you a lot of trouble and anguish.  Here's what PayPal has to say about it:

Protect Your PayPal Account
Recently, PayPal members have reported suspicious-looking emails and fake websites. These fraudulent emails may address you with the salutation "Dear PayPal User" or "Dear PayPal Member." These emails are not from PayPal. PayPal will only address you by your first and last name, or the business name associated with the account.

Use the following tips to protect your PayPal account:

1.   Safely access the PayPal website or your PayPal account by opening up a new web browser (Internet Explorer or Netscape) and type in the following:

2.   Never give out the following information in an email:

  • First name, last name, business name
  • Email and password combination
  • Credit card, bank account, and PIN number
  • Social security and driver's license number

3.   Do not download attachments, software updates, or any application to your computer via a link you received in an email.  PayPal will not ask you to download anything for your account to work.

4.   Choose a unique password and change it every 30-60 days.

If you think you have received a fraudulent email, please forward the entire email to and then delete it.

Remember, the best way to check the validity of the email is to open a new browser window and physically type in PayPal's web address, which is  Never follow a link from an email to access your account.  Once you're at their site and logged in, they'll let you know if you need to provide them any information. Now you know better!

This PayPal spoof wants you to update your email address or your account will supposedly become inactive:

Dear PayPal Customer

This e-mail is the notification of recent innovations taken by PayPal to detect inactive customers and non-functioning mailboxes.

The inactive customers are subject to restriction and removal in the next 3 months.

Please confirm your email address and password number by logging in to your PayPal account using the form below:


 (I killed the form here so you can't accidentally use it...)


Email Address:


This notification expires April 31st, 2004

Thanks for using PayPal!
This PayPal notification was sent to your mailbox. Your PayPal account is set up to receive the PayPal Periodical newsletter and product updates when you create your account. To modify your notification preferences and unsubscribe, go to and log in to your account. Changes to your preferences may take several days to be reflected in our mailings. Replies to this email will not be processed.

Copyright© 2004 PayPal Inc. All rights reserved. Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners.

OK, if you've been paying attention up to this point there are a couple of things that should set off alarm bells:   First and foremost, an email from anybody asking for your password.  PayPal HAS your password, or a way around it if they really need it.  Second, as you read this you can tell it was written by someone who doesn't speak this language natively.  Those two things should immediately make you suspicious.  The new thing here is that instead of it providing you a link to another website where you enter your information, it asks for it in a form within the email.  This is just a slight variation of the other trick.  But you don't have to fall for it because
Now you know better!


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A Problem With Your Order (You Never Placed)

This one was included in one of the technical newsletters that I get (The Langalist at

     Dear client.
     Your order ID: 3735186
     02/26/2004  You have ordered the notebook (New P3 Direct 17"
     Wide TFT Notebook-with Pentium 4 3.06GHz Power) with free-of-charge delivery.
     We are very sorry, but we can't deliver it to you in promised terms, because we have problems with our delivering company.

     Your order can not be delivered earlier than in 28 days. Sorry for inconveniences.

     You have been billed and if time of delivery do not arrange you, you can cancel your order and refund money here:    

     [URL went here]
     Your money will be returned to you without any fee.     
     Notebook Specifications:
     Intel Pentium 4 3.06GHz Processor
     1GB PC2700 DDR333 Memory
     80GB Hard Drive
     17 inch Wide TFT Active Matrix WXGA Display
     DVD-RW Drive
     ATI M9-P MOBILITY RADEON 9000 3D Video
     Integrated 56K v90 Modem
     Integrated 10/100Mbps NIC
     Notebook Carrying Case
     USB 2.0 and FireWire Interfaces!
     Microsoft Windows XP Professional Edition
     Depth: 11 in

     After a minute or two of head-scratching, I realized it's just a nasty phishing scam. The idea, of course, is that you'll say "Wait, I never ordered that!" and rush online to cancel the "order." Naturally, you have to enter your personal information, including your credit card number, so the "refund" can be issued. 

     But there was no order, and the sole purpose of the fake email is to get you to enter your credit card info. 

     The clues include: Unfamiliar address and company name (a company I'd never heard of); incomplete specs (no weight, no width; etc.); and half a dozen other telltale things that I'd rather not list, because I don't want to help hackers improve their scams.

     But most telling to me was the awkward use of language: It's the kind of clumsy text commonly generated by hacker kids who slept through their high-school writing classes; or by non-English-speaking hackers trying to avoid prosecution by operating in what is to them a foreign language. 

     If the above seems too indirect, don't worry: You really don't have to do any real sleuthing on your own. All the major credit card companies have a toll-free number (it's on the back of the credit cards) that you can call to check your account status. I didn't need to in the above case, but I could have called and asked if any large purchases had shown up. If they had not--- and indeed they hadn't in this case--- then it'd be clear the email was a fake. And if bogus charges had been made, the credit card company would help resolve the problem. 

     In any case, keep your BS detectors turned up high, and think before you respond to *any* mail asking for financial or other personal info.
  - Fred Langa

This is just another indication of the level the con artists are willing to go to in their attempts to get into your wallet.  Its important that you always remain on guard and remember not to enter your personal information into an email or a website that was accessed by clicking on a link in an email.  

Just like you wouldn't walk up to a stranger on the street and say, "Hi, my name is Billy Smith and my Master Card number is...." you have to remember that by clicking on a link in an email and going to a website, and then disclosing that information is like doing exactly that.  Don't let someone panic you into doing something you would ordinarily be too smart for.  Now you know better!




 Important Related Links
Department of Justice Identity Theft and Identity Fraud
FBI Internet Fraud Complaint Center
Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Web Page
Internet Fraud Complaint Center
Office of the Inspector General - Identity Theft
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse - Identity Theft
Social Security and Identity Theft


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Fraud Protection Tips
Fraud can result from carelessness on your part, or carelessness or a dishonest act by a person or employee of a person or company you trust.  Obviously, you have the most control over how wisely you protect your vital information.  In most cases, someone attempting to assume your identity needs your full name, address, date of birth, Social Security number and drivers license number.  The more of these that you fail to protect, the more vulnerable you leave yourself.  Here are some tips that can help protect you in your real-world transactions:

Checking Account:   Some time ago it was considered a big time saver to have your Drivers License number and/or Social Security number on your personal checks.  Now the best practice is to have as little information on the face of your check as possible.  Let the clerk write it on your check if they need it.  That will minimize the likelihood that  a dishonest employee somewhere between the merchant, the check clearinghouse and your bank will getting information that makes it easier for them to open credit in your name from every check that you write.

Junk Mail:   Flooded by pre-approved credit card applications?  Never just toss them in the trash.  Instead, shred them to prevent a trash digger from filling out an application in your name.  A good rule of thumb is that every piece of mail that has your name on it should be shredded before you dispose of it.  Think that takes too long?  The average victim of identity theft spends hours every week for more than a year fighting with creditors and credit reporting agencies to have their record cleared of fraudulent transactions.  Investing in a good cross-cutting shredder now may save you thousands of dollars down the road.

Telephone Solicitations:  Congratulations!  You're A Winner!  All you have to do is send in a small processing fee to collect your prize.  Or better yet, give us your bank account information so we can transfer in your prize.  Sounds almost too good to be true, doesn't it?  It IS too good to be true.  Never disclose personal information to anyone who calls you.  Ask them to send the information or an application through the mail.  If they do, review it carefully and make an informed decision before you give them your money or your information.  If they won't send you the information in writing (sorry, this offer expires at midnight, or its a manager's special only for today's phone customers, etc.) hang up the phone before you have a lapse in judgment.

Door to Door Salespeople:   OK, we're not talking about your neighborhood Girl Scout, Boy Scout or school fundraiser here.  We're talking about the roofer who was going through your neighborhood on the way to one of his other jobs, and noticed your roof looks like its in pretty poor condition.  Or the guy who offers to seal your driveway for fifty bucks because they have some material left over from a job they're doing around the corner.  All they need is half down and they'll add you to their schedule and before you know it they'll have you looking like new.  Except they've got your money and you never see them again.  Or worse yet, while they kept you busy at the front door their partner was robbing you through the back door. 

Contractors:   You've finally saved enough money to have that addition put on your home, and now its time to select a contractor.  The best advice is to invest a lot of time shopping for reliable contractors before you invest your money.  Start by looking through the yellow pages, asking friends and relatives about experience they have with any local contractors, and contacting your local Chamber of Commerce and Better Business Bureau.  Get estimates from two or three contractors and ask them for references, and then be sure to actually check the references.  Were they happy with the job?  Was it done on time?  Within budget?  Was there any trouble with the contractor's work passing inspections?  Did they use quality materials?  Was it a quality installation?  You might find that the lowest price won't get you the best job.  Most contractors will require a down payment but be sure you have a contract with the builder that specifies a percentage of the costs up front, with future payments as work is completed and passes inspections.

OK, so you're cool with all that.  But what about online purchases?  The fact is that you need to be even more careful online than you do in the real world.  It is incredibly easy to send email or have a web site.  It is just as easy to claim to be someone you aren't.  It is easy to take your money away from you - unless you remain vigilant to scams.  Here are a few tips to help protect you in cyberspace:

Don't Buy From Spam Emails:   Know why you keep getting all that spam? Its because its profitable.  For a couple hundred bucks a spammer can send out his special offer to a hundred thousand of his closest friends.  If only a small percentage actually send him money to buy either real or non-existent product, he pockets a lot of money.  Not all spam is fraudulent, but from your end of the transaction it may be hard to tell until its too late.  The best rule of thumb is to make your online purchases as a result of shopping and learning.  So even if you didn't realize that you couldn't live without that widget until you got that email advertising it, buy it from someone else after you've shopped around and become an informed consumer.  Spam will not go away so long as it remains profitable. 

Know Who You're Buying From:   If you commit to buying only from major name, reputable online storefronts, you will minimize your risk.  The major name business may not always have the best price, and we don't mean to imply that the little guys are all crooks.  but statistically there are fewer problematic purchases made through the larger online retailers.  If you're willing to assume a little more risk in order to potentially save a few extra dollars, then be sure to exercise extra caution before you spend your money.  Do an online search of the name of the business you're thinking of doing business with.  Check with an online Better Business Bureau to see if they've had complaints.  If the vendor has a bulletin board, read through the entries to gauge customer satisfaction.  Make sure the website contains a physical mailing address for the vendor and a working phone number.  Spend the 25 cents and actually call the number to see who answers.

Use Secure Websites:   Only submit your credit card or other personal information through secure websites.  Look for the padlock icon at the bottom of your screen that indicates you have a secure connection.  Look to be sure the web address begins with https instead of just http.  Otherwise your information could be intercepted and read by someone else as you send it to the vendor through their website.  Secure websites encrypt your data as it is sent, making it much more difficult for a hacker to use.  And never send your credit card or other personal information through email.  Almost no email is encrypted and it is very easily intercepted.

Fraudulent Emails:   Above we showed examples of fraudulent emails, everything from Nigerian scams to false account update requests.  Be smart.  Never click a link in an email and then send your information through the browser that opens to the link.  It is incredible easy to spoof (fake) a website and a link to it.  Open the browser yourself and physically type in the web address of the site you want to visit.  And then, when you're sure you have a secure connection, give the information they need - if you find they actually needed it.

Be Cautious With Online Auctions:   Yes, you can find some great deals on the online auction websites.  And yes, it is a great way to buy.  But there is a growing amount of fraud at these sites too.  Your best protection comes from being cautious.  Don't place bids with new sellers.  Don't place bids with sellers who won't accept your credit card.  Use PayPal or a similar paying agent to protect your credit card information.  In other words, stack the deck in your favor.  And if you do get ripped off, be sure to report it even if its just a small amount.  The auction houses and paying agents take fraud seriously and will do their best to find the crook and get your money back.  But carelessness on your part can result in you becoming a victim.

Don't Lose Your Keys:   In order for someone to assume your identity they need a few "keys".  The more of these keys they have, the better chance they have of unlocking your credit and becoming you.  Protect these keys carefully: 

  • Your full name,
  • your home address,
  • your date of birth,
  • your mother's maiden name,
  • your drivers license number,
  • your social security number,
  • your phone number,
  • your credit card and bank account numbers,
  • the name of the bank(s) where you do business,
  • your employer and your work phone number. 

It Could Happen To You
Lets assume that I prey on people by assuming their identities, wrecking their credit, and absconding with as much as I can until the well runs dry.  I can look through the phonebook and select a victim from a more affluent address.  I drive past the address listed in the phonebook occasionally, noting which day is garbage day.  Next week, at night, I snatch up one of your garbage bags and take it to a secluded place where I can sort through it for more information.  

Suddenly I have your middle name (off from a pre-approved credit card application that you discarded without shredding), I know which bank you use and I have your checking account number and drivers license number because you threw away that check you voided.  And I'd really like to thank you for throwing away your paycheck stub - it contains your employer's name, your employee ID number, and I can use it to estimate your annual income. Not bad for a few minutes work, huh?  And I'm well on the way to having enough information to open an account in your name.

So now I fill out one of your pre-approved credit card applications and when the cards come to the address I specified I max them out - in your name.  Since the bills aren't coming to you, you have no idea that I'm out there ruining your credit until you apply for a loan and are denied because your credit is no good.

Prevention Is The Key
Inventory your wallet - If your wallet was stolen could you remember everything that was in it?  Do you have the phone numbers to call to report your cards stolen?  Do you really need  to carry more than one credit card?  Memorize your Social Security Number instead of carrying it with you.  In other words, minimize your risk by evaluating what you really need to carry with you every day. Click Here to download a Wallet Inventory Form.

Minimize the use of your Social Security Number as an account number or identifier - Some federal or state agencies may legally require that you provide them with your Social Security Number.  In most cases you are not required to give your SSN to private businesses, unless the transaction you're entering into must be reported to a federal or state agency that requires it.  Request that your insurance carrier or other business use something besides your SSN to identify your account with them.

Checking Account Safety - Don't put your phone number, SSN or Drivers License Number on your personal checks.  The clerk can write that information on your check if they need it.  When you order checks, have them delivered to your bank, and pick them up there.

Mailbox Safety - Don't leave mail in your mailbox any longer than you have to.  And when you need to mail something, take it to a Post Office or one of their mailboxes instead of leaving it in your mailbox - never leave mail in your mailbox overnight.  Consider renting and using a post office box.

Shred, Shred, Shred - Used your debit card to pay for that great supper last night?  Look at the receipt - it may contain your account number.  Don't just toss it into the trash - shred it!  Get into the habit of shredding anything you're throwing away that bears your name or any personal information.  And buy a good crosscut shredder that makes confetti, not one that just slices your documents into strips that are more easily put back together.  Those old utility bills you're about to toss?  Shred 'em.  The unused deposit slips from that pad of checks?  Shred 'em.  

Shoulder Surfers - When you're using the ATM or in line at the grocery or wherever, beware of someone peering over your shoulder and memorizing the information from your check or debit card (yup, its happened).

No Phone Info - Make it a firm rule that nobody in your household discloses any type of personal or account information over the telephone unless they initiated the call.  If someone calls you and requests any type of personal information, make them send their request in writing and then carefully consider whether you're actually required to provide it. If you initiated the phone call, be careful to give out no more information than required to complete the transaction.

Be Careful On The Internet - There is a huge amount of fraud on the internet.  Make sure you're using a secure connection when you buy that new stereo.  Make sure you know who you're giving your information to.  Study their privacy policy and make sure they won't be passing your information on to anyone else.  Don't respond to emails requesting information - even if it seems legitimate.  Instead open your browser and physically type in the website name.  If they need information from you, let them tell you at their website.  If they list a phone number, call them and make sure they actually sent the request for information. You can't be too cautious!  

Computer Updates - And don't forget to protect your computer.  Always install the updates as they're released for your operating system.  Many of them close security holes that have been identified.  Purchase a good anti-virus program and set it up to update its virus definitions and perform a complete scan regularly.  And don't forget to use a firewall - a program that lets you dial out, but tries to keep others from getting in to your computer.  Practice safe computing - don't download attachments from emails, don't download files from people who didn't write them, etc.  Some viruses today log your keystrokes (including usernames, passwords, credit card info, etc.) and send it to someone you don't even know - and you never even know it happens!

Mailing Lists - Opt out of receiving pre-approved credit offers so you minimize the amount of this potentially unsafe mail in your mailbox.  Click here to go to the Experian website to read more.  Opt out of everything you can for better safety.

Watch Your Credit Report - If you regularly order a copy of your credit report, your proactive approach will help you spot fraud long before you otherwise find out when denied a loan.



Have You Been A Victim?

If you've been a victim of identity theft or other type of fraud, and you think you can help others avoid the same problems by sharing your story, email me and we'll post your story here for others to learn from.


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