Mar 7 2014, 8:47am CST | by Forbes
I love a good TV or film detective story that draws you in with deception. Since I don’t really want to know how something ends until the last shot, I enjoy being drawn into sub-plots, character diversions and symbolism.
The HBO Series “True Detective” does all that, although in a disturbing and provocative way. Financial scams do the same thing, drawing you in with emotional hooks and assumptions that are illogical. But you don’t need to be a detective to spot the most prevalent frauds. They have a language all their own.
Here are some recent narratives that have popped up recently that are luring people into either cyber mischief, paying fees to “ reclaim” cash or identity theft:
* Nigerian Treasury Scam. These swindles have been around for years, but all work the same way. If you send them money, then they will “release” funds into your account. They keep your money and you get nothing.
Lately, these fraudsters have slapped on the name of the U.S. Treasury Secretary and thrown in a reference to the Federal Reserve. The best way to spot one of these email frauds is the awful syntax used in the pitch, which makes them sound like foreign, bureaucratic gobbledygook. Here’s a sample from my spam folder:
“May your advancement, blessings, safety and good health all be guaranteed. May the Lord sprinkle the blessings to cover you and all
members of your family this year 2014 (Amen). However, I am sending you this email note to notify you about the decision by the Federal Reserve Board to cancel all the FUND Transfer arrangement already made for the final transferring of your United Nations Compensation fund valued at the sum $500,000.00 USD. This decision was taken by the Federal Reserve Board against your refusal to comply with the processing of a “Fund Clearance Certificate”, estimated to the value of $150 USD which is required in accordance with the U.S. Monetary Policy and it is the ONLY expenses you will incur before the fund transfer will be completed into your bank account.”/>
The email address says it’s from the U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, but I’m puzzled as to why I would benefit from a “United Nations Compensation” fund. I don’t know who would fall for this kind of deception, but I’m sure they catch someone every day. Just don’t send them money.
* Scam Artist Compensation. This is another variation of the Nigerian scam, only the operators proudly claim that they have rounded up the perpetrators — in West Africa, of course — and have recovered money from their ill-gotten gains. Naturally, they want to share the booty with you! Again, bad syntax, spelling and punctuation dominate these pitches.
The following email is probably what experts call a “reload” scam, where the scamsters go after people who’ve already been scammed.
We have been able to track down so many of (sic) this scam artist in various parts of west African countries which includes (NIGERIA, REPUBLIC OF BENIN, TOGO, GHANA CAMEROUN AND SENEGAL) and they are all in our custody here in Lagos Nigeria. We have been able to recover so much money from these scam artists. The United Nation Anti-crime commission and the United State Government have ordered the money recovered from the Scammers to be shared among 100 Lucky people around the globe.
This email is being directed to you because your email address was found in one of the scam Artists file and computer hard disk in our custody here in Nigeria and with the information (sic) gartered from this Scam artist, we notice that you have been scammed of so much money and have decided to compensate you with a little token to recover the lost of your fund. You are therefore being compensated with the total sum $2.5 Million Dollars.
The online Banking Processing is made much easier for you to transfer your fund to your private Bank Account personally, to avoid any delay or complication of things. With this Online Banking Transfer Processing, you can only transfer the Maximum Amount of US$500.000.0 daily/install mentally until the total amount of your Compensated/deposited fund is transferred and completely paid to you.”
* Mortgage Refinance. These emails are usually connected with some sort of government program where the promise is that you can save hundreds of dollars. These operators usually take a hefty fee for “refinancing,” then leave you high and dry.
* Death Notice. I received an email from what appeared to be a funeral home telling me that a friend died. The only problem is they didn’t say which friend. Small detail.
I didn’t click on the link, which I’m fairly sure will either ask me for money, download a virus or ask for personal information that they can steal. When you get a death notice email, there shouldn’t be a mystery as to who has died. Just don’t click on the link.
* Purchasing Scam. This is a lesser-known trap that businesses may be drawn into because it appears to be an offer to buy your products. Like the Nigerian scams, they make money from “fees” to set up business deals. Here’s a recent one:
“We are interested in purchasing your products which we saw in trading site and we sincerely hope to establish a long-term business relation with your esteemed company. Please kindly send me your latest catalog. Also, inform me about the Minimum Order Quantity, Delivery time or FOB, and payment terms warranty. Your early reply is highly appreciated.”
That’s all for this week. I’m trying to figure out who the “Yellow King” is and his connection to “Carcosa” in the season finale of True Detective. I’m sure my curiosity and interest will be rewarded, but it won’t cost me much to find out.
John F. Wasik is the author of Keynes’s Way to Wealth: Timeless Investment Lessons from the Great Economist and 13 other books. An investor protection advocate, he speaks and writes regularly on investing, economics and personal finance.
Source: Forbes Business
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