|From the email: "got mugged at gun point
on my way to the hotel and my money,
credit cards, phone and other valuable things
were taken off me at gun point…"
Here’s an email that slipped through my spam filter:
I’m sorry I didn’t inform you about my traveling… am presently in London, United Kingdom on short vacation and as i write to you now.. its unbelievable am stuck here,got mugged at gun point on my way to the hotel and my money,credit cards,phone and other valuable things were taken off me at gun point, thanking Almighty God for save keeping my passport,i really need your urgent assistance quickly ? I JUST NEED £850 TO SORT OUT MY HOTEL BILLS AND i promise to refund it back to you once i get to the state cause i still have some cash in my account but i can’t access any here right now,already canceled all my cards immediately after the muggers took my things off me!!! still at the public internet library where am making use of the free internet access, i will forever be grateful if you can help me,Waiting to hear from you quickly cos my return flight leaves soon but need to sort the hotel bills and please save me from been embarrassed.
And here’s the reply I sent from an email account I set up just for the purpose of replying to Glen’s bogus email:
Sorry to here about your troubles. Never been to London myself. Mugged at gunpoint is scary. I got mugged once it was a knife scary not as scary as you. Thanks to God Above you not hurt. I have little money but beleive God lets me help people who need the help will $100 be enough for you right now? Let me know right away.
In Gods Grace,
Robert C**** (redacted, see below)
Unfortunately, I received no reply.
But here’s a quick analysis.
This scam is similar to the grandparent scam or emergency scam, where someone phones an older person and pretends to be a relative or grandchild who needs money because of an emergency – like getting mugged in the U.K. The "relative" convinces the person to wire money and not tell anyone else. Once wired, the money is not recoverable. That scam works because it’s immediate and brazen, sometimes with a touch of shamefullness thrown in about the reason the relative lost their money ("I’m so embarrassed") which acts as a final convincer for the one being conned to make sure not tell anyone else.
But how does that work in this email? It doesn’t. He or she is a lousy scammer. Here’s why:
One, I’m not convinced the sender is anyone I know. How could I be convinced? And I’m not sure they could have persuaded me via a back-and-forth email or chat session, either.
Two, there’s no warning that I should keep this a secret, although there is a token "save me from been embarrassed" at the end.
Three, they ask for £850, which according to the Universal Currency Converter is 1,308.50 U.S. Dollars. Isn’t that a bit greedy, for someone I don’t remember knowing?
Four, I do like the explanation for how, even though their "money,credit cards,phone and other valuable things were taken off me at gun point," the person can access the Internet from a "public internet library." The scammer explained that well.
Five, even though the email was 178 words long, they somehow decided that they can be just like a text message by using the shortened word "cos" for "because."
Finally, the online con-artist invokes "Almighty God," betting that a religious person will be more charitable, or at least more gullible.
I wonder if any of these types of online email scams actually work?
(****By the way, I used the last name of Cozen because it means "to trick, deceive or obtain by deception." I don’t want to put the two names together because I don’t want an Internet search to find it. That way I can use that name again.)
If you’d like to peruse a scam letter database, go to ScamDex>>