Don’t Pay it Forward

Have you ever seen one of these emails?

DEAR/Sir,Madam:It is obvious that this notification will come to you as a Suprise but please find time to read it carefully while We congratulate you over your success in the following official publication of results of the E-mail electronic online Sweepstakes organized by the SPONSOR BINGO LOTERIJ INTER.,in conjunction with the foundation for the promotion of software products,(F.P.S.)The selection was made through a computer draw system attaching personalised email addresses to ticket numbers.,which was held on the 15th of June 2007,in Amsterdam The Netherlands.

I got three on Saturday, a total of 2,250,000 which would be excellent if it were true. This is a really common form of fraud, known as “Forward Fee Fraud“, or the Nigerian Scam, or 419 after the section in the Nigerian law against this fraud.

The emails typically tell you that you’ve won money based on your email address, they use official sounding names, but the email addresses are all generic email addresses – yahoo, gmail etc. If you respond to claim your winnings you’ll be asked for a series of ever increasing fees and you will NEVER receive any winnings. If you routinely ignore these emails, great – that’s the right approach. But sadly people do still fall for it.

A lot of the ones recently have used Dutch addresses, Dutch companies and Dutch phone numbers. But a police action in the weekend rounded up and arrested a group of more than 100 fraudsters. They’ll be back operating from their home countries within a week, but I’m still happy that the police are taking it seriously, and taking action.

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