Victims of email fraud can take some solace from the knowledge that law enforcement officials, upon capturing the criminals that defrauded them, will contact them to return the money they lost. Yeah right. If you believe this you definitely need to read the rest of this post.
Some people aren’t content with being duped once and the worldwide army of fraud practitioners is happy to oblige them with a second opportunity. This second chance comes in the form of an offer to return the money they lost in the first con.
You would think that, having been burned once, a fraud victim would be the last person to fall for something like this. Judging by how common these scams are though, this appears to be an invalid conclusion.
We find it hard to believe that these emails are only targeted at previous victims. Instead, there are likely two audiences for this ruse:
- People who have been scammed once and are ready to be scammed again.
- Those who think they can get the offered “compensation” without having been scammed in the first place.
Either way, it must work because the spammers wouldn’t do it if it didn’t.
Here’s a fairly typical example:
Subject: COMPENSATION PAYMENT
From: “Mrs.Angie Lewis” <email@example.com>
SCAMMED VICTIM PAYMENT BENEFITS.
This mail is to officially notify you, that your email address have been listed as one of the Scammed victim, to benefit from this ongoing SCAMMED VICTIM COMPENSATION BENEFITS (SVCB) and have approved for the payment of USD $165,000.00(ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY FIVE THOUSAND UNITED STATE DOLLARS).
Please be informed that your REF/PAYMENTS CODE IS: CF&SC/02354, Amount due: $165,000.00 USD and are to be quoted in your corresponding,
For claim you are advice to contact
FOREIGN SCAM PAYMENT OPERATIONS DEPARTMENT
CONTACT PERSON: Mr. David Adeyemi
With your details as below for easy processing and payment release:
1. Full Name:…………
2. Phone Number:………
3. Sex: ……………..
4. Age ………………
5. Occupation ………..
Mrs. Angie Lewis
International Scammed Victims Compensation Co-coordinator.Copyright 2009
Aside from the usual spam indicators like the capitalized subject, the info fields followed by a line of dots, weird capitalization and other grammar errors there are a couple of interesting generic spam/fraud techniques to point out before we get to the specifics of the victim compensation fraud.
First, in the “From:” field, the descriptive name “Mrs.Angie Lewis” has absolutely nothing to do with the address “firstname.lastname@example.org”. This is a very strong spam indicator. While it is possible that a real person would use a descriptive name that doesn’t match the address it’s not as common.
Second, the “To:” address is the same as the “From:” address. This probably means that there was a huge list of Bcc recipients. It could also mean that the spammer used software that filled in the “To:” and “From:” fields with the addresses from their address list. Not a great idea but we’ve seen dumber ones.
The most important indication of this kind of fraud is the fact that you got an email from some official sounding agency offering to compensate you for your loss. These types of emails usually claim to come from the CIA, the FBI, MI-5, Interpol or any other major law enforcement entity. (BTW, if the agency is in Africa that’s a dead giveaway.)
The truth is that these law enforcement services don’t like to deal with this kind of thing because of the inter-governmental complications involved. One of the reasons email fraud is so common is that it is so difficult to prosecute crimes that cross international borders.
Another common compensation fraud indicator is the use of acronyms to confer legitimacy as in “SCAMMED VICTIM COMPENSATION BENEFITS (SVCB)”.We looked up SCVB and found a lot of entries for [name of city beginning with S] Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. Somehow it seems unlikely that government would use the word “scammed” in an official agency title (unless it was the U.S. legislative branch trying to come up with a good acronym like CAN-SPAM).
We also looked up “Mrs.Angie Lewis” and found, along with a bunch of information about real people named Angie Lewis, references to the exact email quoted above. This is frequently the case and we highly recommend searching the details of any message you suspect is fraud in at least one of the major search engines. Try searching for names of people and/or organizations, email addresses and telephone numbers.
On the other hand, finding names of real organizations, places and people is not a guarantee that the message is legitimate. Fraudsters are adept at mixing real details into their “stories” so if you find that the email references a real organization, keep going. They have to include something that leads back to them, and email address or a phone number, and there’s a good chance someone has done a blog post on it or something.
Here’s another example for comparison:
Subject: BRITISH HIGH COMMISSION
From: Sali Kuku <email@example.com>
To: undisclosed recipients: ;
BRITISH HIGH COMMISSION
Metro Plaza, Plot 991/992
Zakari Maimalari Street
Cadastral Zone AO,
Central Business District, Abuja.
TEL: +234 807 349 1583
The BRITISH High Commission in Nigeria,Benin Republic,Ghana and Bukinafaso received a report of scam against you and other British/US citizens and Malaysia Etc. The countries of Nigeria Benin Republic, Bukina faso and Ghana have recompensed you following the meeting held with the Four countries’ Government and various countries’ high commission for the fraudulent activities carried out by the Four countries’ Citizens. Your name was among those scammed as listed by the Nigeria Financial Intelligent Unit (NFIU).A Compensation has been issued out to all the affected victims and has been already in endorsement to all the victims. Yours was among those that was reported unpaid as at Monday 22th February 2010 and we wish to advise you to see to the instructions of the Committee to make sure you receive your compensation immediately.
We advise that you do the needful to make sure the NFIU endorse your payment on Friday 26th Feb. 2010. Contact the office of the consular for an advise on how your recompense will be effected to you(firstname.lastname@example.org) Be advised that you should stop further contacts with all the fake lawyers and security companies who in collaboration scammed you. furnish us with the following details to satisfy you for the recompensation.
Call : +234 807 349 1583 immediately to check if the delivery date suits you.
Yours in Service,
Robert Dewar, CONSULAR,
BRITISH HIGH COMMISSION
BRITISH HIGH COMMISSION
This one also uses the acronym trick: Nigeria Financial Intelligent Unit (NFIU) as well as the info field list (this time with colons instead of a line of periods). It also doesn’t have a great command of English (like, shouldn’t it be Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit?) and it’s from an organization in Africa. We’re convinced. It’s fraud.
In conclusion, if you get an email from somebody offering to compensate you for the last time you got scammed. You should know better. Don’t get fooled again.
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