Support Our Troops

In today’s email fraud post we will be discussing messages that are intended to appeal to your patriotism (and greed). These messages pretend to be from soldiers in the field. More specifically, from “military personnel” looking for someone to help them smuggle large amounts of some valuable commodity out of a war zone.

This type of fraud asks you to believe that someone you never heard of has found a large cache of cash (or gold, or diamonds, etc.) in Saddam Hussein’s summer home or in an unguarded bank (like in the movie Three Kings) and needs your help to get it out of whatever theater of operations they claim to be in. You are expected to trust this person because they’re fighting for your freedom, never mind that they’re trying to involve you in a criminal conspiracy. Besides, the government would probably just keep the money so it’s better that you and the unknown soldier split it instead (so much for patriotism).

The following is one of the best examples we’ve seen in a while:

Subject: Am John England

From: JOHN ENGLAND JR <blackdragon30@sbcglobal.net>

To: undisclosed recipients: ;

Dear Comrade.

With trust and gratitude I contact you, I know this mail will come to you as a huge surprise, but I implore you to take the time to go through it carefully as the decision you make will go a long way to determine my future.

I am US Army JOHN ENGLAND,in Fallujah, Iraq. I am desperately in need of your assistance. I am seeking your assistance to move out the sum of USD9,500,000 to the States or any safe country of your choice, as far as I can be assured that it will be safe in your care until I return. This is no stolen money and there are no dangers involved.

Some money in various currencies were discovered and concealed in barrels with piles of weapons and ammunition at a location near one of Saddam Hussein’s old Presidential Palace during a rescue operation and it was agreed by all party present that the money be shared amongst. This might appear as an illegal thing to do but I tell you what, no compensation can make up for the risks we have taken with our lives in Iraq. The above figure was given to me as my share.

I need to get the package out before it’s too late, for I do not know how long I will remain here or survive as I have been lucky to have survived 2 suicide bomb attacks by Pure Divine Intervention. This and other reasons have prompted me to reach out for your help. Should you decide to help me in this, please contact me and we would work out the necessary formalities but I pray that you keep this project secret.

Am waiting for your reply so that I can furnish you with more details. My email id is: joneng900@yahoo.it

Respectfully Yours,

Regards,
John England

Email: joneng900@yahoo.it

Would you believe anybody would believe this is from an American?

First of all we’re not sure what to make of the subject. Are they saying they are John England or is “Am” supposed to be short for “American”? Either way it’s weird.

In the “From:” we have the all caps format usually used in the fraud subjects and a semi-believable email address (“blackdragon” sounds kind of soldiery) but the “To:” indicates that this message was blind carbon copied to who knows who.

At this point we’d call this fraud and delete it, but we’ll keep going for the sake of due diligence.

The salutation is somewhat ironic in that the type of person most likely to fall for this probably doesn’t like “commies” and addressing them as “Comrade” is not likely to be very endearing.

The first paragraph is a variation of the “I know you don’t know me but read this anyway” appeal found in numerous fraud emails. This is a very strong indicator that the message is a scam. Always keep an eye out for things like “forgive me for contacting this way” or “you don’t know me but I’m sure I can trust you” as these phrases and others like them are used almost exclusively by fraud campaigns. Oh, and it ends by implying that the author will suffer dire consequences if you don’t reply. Nice touch.

What follows is a masterful work of fiction (even if the English is a bit broken). The story goes:

US Army John England is in Fallujah, Iraq and has $9,500,000 that he needs you to hold for him until he gets home, the money’s not stolen and this is not dangerous. (This is often the full extent of this kind of fraud but this guy has three whole paragraphs. The next one lays it on even thicker.)

Found money . . . Saddam Hussein’s old Presidential Palace . . . rescue operation . . . no compensation can make up for the risks we have taken with our lives in Iraq. Wow! This is better than a movie.

The last paragraph contains a very subtle enticement to top off the brilliance so far. The implication is that “John England” has already cheated death twice and if you help he’ll probably get blown up before he comes to claim the money so it will all be yours. Muahaha! If there were fraud awards this one would be in line for best screenplay or a Grammy or something.

In the event that all of this moves you to respond (enjoying the creativity of it doesn’t count, BTW) you should email “joneng900@yahoo.it”. Wait. What? “yahoo.it”? Don’t worry there must be a good reason for using an Italian Yahoo! address. We’ll let you know what it is as soon as we think of it. And don’t tell anybody.

In summary, this email uses a number of standard fraud tactics:

  1. All caps header (although capitalizing the “From:” is unusual)
  2. No specific recipient (indicates multiple “Bcc:” recipients)
  3. Generic salutation Comrade!
  4. Involves moving millions of dollars
  5. Repeated emphasis on the safety and non-illegality of participating
  6. Begs you to keep it secret

If you really want to help our deployed soldiers, try the USO.

UPDATE 3/9/2010

Apparently John England is a favorite generic, American sounding name among the fraudsters. Here’s another one from John:

Subject: Good Day

From: MR JOHN ENGLAND <sntassmb2010@verizon.net>

To: (the usual undisclosed recipients)

Dear Friend,

Permit the manner with which I am seeking your assistance but I am short of options and have no other choice. I am John England from the hospitality state (Mississippi),an army contractor attached to the U.S.A Military force in Iraq.The reason why I explaining my findings to you is to seek for your assistance to enable me send this two trunk boxes out from Iraq that contain ($23.3million Dollars) which i have found. contact me through this email for more information,: mr.johnengland99@yahoo.com

Best Regards
John England

Note the different from address and contact address listed in the body. This appears to be a completely different con artist. Either that or the real John England is really busy.

This would be funnier if people didn’t actually fall for this stuff.

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