A few weeks ago, my wife and I were at my parents home enjoying dinner when my family got on the topic of cable. When I was younger, my family didn't have cable or Dish, but we did have an antenna that would allow us to watch television channels. This conversation led to my mother telling my wife about a fake, scam phone call we received when I was around 18-years-old. I answered the phone and toyed around with the person on the other end of the line, trying to tell me that I'm overpaying for my Dish services. We didn't have Dish. TL;DR: I've loved messing around with scammers for quite some time.
What you are about to view is a scam. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the person exchanging emails with me in the following screenshots is nonexistent. It starts out relatively simple, with a gentleman claiming to be Louis George claiming that I have a relative named George (he doesn't give a last name) who passed away, and that he had no next of kin, so I am entitled to his $6.8 million estate. I will walk you through the back and forth as I try to find out what this scammer is really after, as well as hope to ask some questions that cause him(?) to slip up.
It begins innocent enough with the claim I stated above. He then asks for my "full names," as if I have mutliple names...but you find out why he asks this in a following email. He also asks for my "private telephone," which there is no way I'm about to give out.
I respond as, unfortunately, many may respond - in the affirmative. I ask where Louis is located, and if he could meet in person. I also inquire about his charges for a service such as this. I sign the email "Stuart Ash," as I can see what he is trying to do. Unforunately, one of GMail's many downfalls is the fact that your whole name appears in the To:/From: bar. As I've noticed as of late, Google's email client is becoming the new email client which is preferred by hackers. It turns out they've finally shifted from Hotmail.
This is where the interesting parts begin. "Louis" begins his email with "may Almighty God continue to be with you and your family." Not bad for a scammer, basically praying for my family and me after "the loss of my relative." He claims my relative is John C. Ashenbrenner, who does not exist. Immediately following telling me the name of the deceased, he reveals to me that he resides in "Lome Capital City of Togo." What he is trying to say is that he lives in Lome, the capital of the country Togo. If you're wondering where Togo is, it is in Western Africa, not too far west of Nigeria. Coincidentally, this isn't the infamous "Nigerian Prince Scam," where you get a cold-call telling you that the Prince of Nigeria needs your money. This is the dead-relative-from-Togo scam apparently.
He then launches into all of the necessary information he requires. Which includes, but is not limited to my name, address, phone number, drivers license or passport number. My assumption is that this is their end game - the drivers license or passport number.
After that extremely lengthy and broken-English email, I was sort of at a loss of what to say. Split the money 50-50? Supposedly for a family member that had no next-of-kin to pass on the inheritance. So I reply, questioning this point. I also wanted a little clarification on how we was able to do this from Togo...
So he sent me another lengthy reply, about a day later. If you read through this, he is actually somewhat eloquent, if that's the proper word.
The most fascinating part of these scams is the scammers themselves. These scams have been happening since the '90s, and it would not still be continuing 20-30 years later if they weren't doing something right. After seeing enough of these, I think I've figured out what they do right: They know emotion.
The emotion this scammer conveys in the following email truly appears genuine, although difficult to understand at times. If you think about this from someone who isn't necessarily computer savvy or doesn't have knowledge scammers, this type of email may actually work in baiting and phishing for these scamming victims.
I requested a certificate of death as well as how we needed to move forward. I kept expecting him to request money via Western Union or wire transfer. I also give a slight jab at his "millions of Ashenbrenner(s) in your country." There's maybe a dozen.
And this last email from Louis is where things have ended, and where I'm going to leave it, because know it is obvious what they're after, my ID. With the information below that they are requesting, it would be incredibly easy to steal my identity. Full name, address, profession, email, valid ID, all of those would pass the check for a new ID.
To sum all of this up, this email skipped my Junk email box, and it came directly to my Inbox. I knew immediately it was a scam, but many don't realize this.
If you come across a suspicious email, please forward it on to me, and I would be happy to advise you on how to move forward. When it comes to email and the internet, do the opposite of what we're supposed to do in real life. Online, you have to expect someone has ill intentions first, then learn to trust them. If you trust first, you will fall victim to scams like this. I have done a blog on a specific scam called The Scam of A-Tech Networks. Feel free to read it as well.
Be careful and safe browsing!