Posts Tagged: ‘email scam’

September 28, 2015 – Steve Weisman’s latest USA Today column

September 28, 2015 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Here is a link to Steve Weisman’s USA Today column from today’s online edition of USA Today entitled “Email Scam Hits Corporate Computers.

Scam of the day – July 18, 2015 – Ingenious text message gmail scam

July 18, 2015 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

It is not surprising that scam artists are the only criminals that we refer to as artists.  Some of their scams are truly ingenious.  Today’s scam starts when you receive a text message from Google with a verification code.  Immediately thereafter and before you can even respond to the first text message, you receive a second text message that states, “Google has detected unusual activity on your account.  Please reply with the verification code sent to your mobile device to stop unauthorized activity.”  Many people have been merely following those directions and promptly send the verification code they just received.  However, by doing so, the victim has just turned over his or her gmail account to a scammer who can scour the account for information to be used for identity theft purposes.

What actually went on was that a hacker with the victim’s email address and cell phone number went to login on the victim’s gmail account and clicked on the “Forgot password” link prompting a verification code to be sent to the victim’s cell phone.  Immediately thereafter the hacker sent the original message that appears above pretending that he or she is Google so when the victim responds by sending the verification code, he or she is actually sending it to the hacker who then uses it to access the victim’s gmail account.


Never send a verification code to anyone through an email or a text message.  The only place you should use a verification code is when you login online.  If like the victim of this scam, you receive a verification code sent to you on your cell phone that you did not request, notify your email provider because that is an indication that someone is trying to hack into your account.

Scam of the day – March 27, 2015 – Another Nigerian letter scam

March 26, 2015 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

As we all know by now, the Nigerian letter scam is the name for a type of scam in which you are told that under some pretense you are to receive a huge amount of money for doing next to nothing.  Of course, once you correspond with the sender of the email, you soon learn that it takes payment after payment from you under various guises in order to receive the money and, of course, ultimately, you receive nothing, but the scammer has managed to trick you out of your money.  Here is a copy of such an email that I recently received:

“Dear Friend ,

How are you? I am sorry but happy to inform you about my success in getting those funds transferred under the co-operation of a new partner from Kosovo though I tried my best to involve you in the business but God decided the whole situations.  Presently I am in Kosovo for investment projects with my own share of the total sum. Meanwhile, I did not forget your past efforts and attempts to assist me in transferring those funds despite that it failed us somehow.

Now contact my little friend in South Africa his name is. Mr. Betrand Thando On his e-mail address;  Ask him to send you the total sum of $400.000.00 (four hundred thousand usd) which i kept for your compensation for all the past efforts and attempts to assist me in this matter. I appreciated your efforts at that time very much. So feel free and get in touch with my little friend. And instruct him where to send the amount to you. Please do let me know immediately you receive it so that we can share the joy after all the sufferness at that time.  In the moment, I am very busy here because of the investment projects which I and the new partner are having at hand, finally, remember that I had forwarded instruction to my friend on your behalf to receive that money, so feel free to get in touch with him he will send the amount to you without any delay.

Miss. Bea.”


This email is typical of many others and filled with poor grammar and punctuation.  In this case, the letter even speaks of previous dealings which certainly cannot be true. The story is utterly preposterous.  So who would possibly fall for this?  Only the truly gullible and that is the very strategy used by these scammers.  They do not want to waste their time on people who might eventually see through their scam so they make their plea as outrageous as possible so that if someone takes the bait, they are likely to be able to cheat that person out of their money.

By now, we all know that no one is giving you something for nothing and even the most gullible among us must ask themselves, why they were singled out for such good fortune.  The answer is that this is a scam and the best thing you can do is to enjoy the humor of these emails, but never respond to them

Scam of the day – November 6, 2014 – New Smishing scam

November 6, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Smishing is the name given to text messages that lure you into clicking on links or providing personal information in response to a text message from what appears to be a trusted source, such as a company with which you do business, such as your bank.  Recently there have been a number of smishing scams in which the messages appear to be from the bank Sun Trust.  In some of the recent Sun Trust smishing scams you are prompted to respond to a feigned emergency by providing personal information such as your account number.  If you provide this or other personal information, it is used by the scammers to make you a victim of identity theft.  In other smishing scams, you are told to call a telephone number that is a toll number with charges as much as $19 per minute.  Often you are put on hold for long periods of time to increase the charges.


Your bank is not going to contact you by a text message if there is a problem with your account.  More importantly, as I have warned you many times, you can never be sure who really is sending you an email, text message or phone call and should never provide personal information in response to such communications.  If you think that there is a possibility that the contact may be legitimate, you should call the real company at a telephone number that you are sure is legitimate to learn whether or not the original communication with you was a scam.

Scam of the day – September 1, 2014 – Phone scams

September 1, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Although so much of our attention is focused on scams perpetrated on the Internet and through means of high technology, a recent survey confirmed that low technology, namely the telephone still is fertile ground for many scams.  According to the Truecaller/Harris survey more than 17 million Americans became victims of telephone scams during the past year at a cost of 8.6 billion dollars.  One specifically telephone connected scam is “cramming” where fraudulent charges are added to your phone bill and often go unnoticed by people who pay little attention to the detailed information provided in lengthy, monthly phone bills particularly for wireless service. There are many ways that these unauthorized charges make their way to a victim’s phone, sometimes, consumers actually unknowingly sign up for premium texting services that may be for things such as flirting tips, horoscopes or celebrity gossip.  Whatever the source of the charges, they are fraudulent and typically cost about $9.99 per month and continue to appear for months without end.  You can find more detailed information about cramming by putting the word “cramming” into the archives section of Scamicide.  Other telephone related fraud occurs when people provide personal information over the phone when called by scamming telemarketers or to scammers who entice or scare the person receiving the call to either provide personal information or make a payment, such as in the present scam in which you receive a call purportedly from the IRS demanding payment for outstanding taxes.


In regard to protecting yourself from cramming, you should never click on links or sign up for anything unless you have carefully read the fine print to see what else you may be signing up for.  In fact, you should never click on links in an email or text message unless you have independently verified that it is legitimate.  As for calls from telemarketers, not all telemarketers are criminals, but unfortunately, you have no way of knowing when you receive a call whether or not the person on the other end of the conversation is indeed legitimate or not so you should never provide personal information or payment in response to a telephone call until you have independently verified the call.  You may even wish to put yourself on the federal Do Not Call list to avoid telemarketers.  If you do get a call from a telemarketer after you have put yourself on the list, you know that the person is not legitimate and you should ignore the call.  Here is a link to the Do Not Call list if you wish to enroll.  You can still receive calls from charities even if you are on the Do Not Call List, but again, you cannot be sure that the person calling is really from the charity so never give money over the phone to a telemarketer who calls you on behalf of a charity.  It is also worth noting that when you do make a charitable donation to a legitimate charity telemarketer, the telemarketer takes a percentage of your contribution as a commission.  If you want your donation to do the most good, you should contact the charity directly to make your donation.

Scam of the day – August 30, 2014 – New scam threats springing from J.P. Morgan data breach

August 30, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

As I have told you so many times, whenever something catches the attention of the public, it catches the attention of scammers and identity thieves who use it as a hook to turn that public’s interest in something into making the public victims of scams.  The recent death of Robin Williams and the Ice Bucket Challenge are two examples of things that have fascinated the public that were used to turn people into scam victims.  You can find the details about both of these scams in previous Scams of the day.  Now, the J.P. Morgan bank hacking is a big news story and it should be.  The data breach at J.P. Morgan and a number of other banks poses a serious threat to the financial well being of many people.  Scammers and identity thieves are now capitalizing on this concern and fear in the public to send emails and text messages to people in which the identity thieves pose as J.P. Morgan or other banks.  In the emails and text messages, you are told about problems with your account that require your immediate attention and you are directed to click on a link for further information.  If you click on this link, however, you will end up downloading keystroke logging malware that will steal the personal information from your computer and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.  In another variation of this scam, you are directed to provide your personal banking account information in response to the email for verification purposes.  Of course, if you do this, all you will succeed in doing is providing an identity thief with the information he or she needs to steal money from your accounts.


Whenever you receive an email or a text message you cannot be sure of who sent it to you.  Even if the address of the sender appears to be legitimate, it is easy for a scam artist (remember, they are called artists) to “spoof” or counterfeit a legitimate address to make the message appear to be legitimate.  Never provide personal information in response to an email or text message.  Never click on links in emails or text messages unless you are absolutely sure that the message is legitimate.  If you have think that the email or text message may be legitimate, you should call the bank or other purported sender at a phone number that you independently have confirmed is legitimate to inquire.  Don’t call the number provided to you by the scammer.

Scam of the day – May 5, 2014 – A pitiful attempt at a scam

May 5, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Before I started teaching at Bentley University, I taught in the Massachusetts state prison system.  Among my students was a scam artist, who decried the fact that in his day it took skills to be a proper scam “artist,” but that with the aid of today’s technology, anyone regardless of how skilled they may or may not be, can become a scammer.  I thought of his sage analysis recently when I received the following email:

“Hello I am David this is to bring to your notice your ATM card has been release please contact us immediately with your information !!”

The email came from an address that was obviously not in any way related to any bank issuing an ATM card.  In fact, the email did not indicate my name, an account number, the name of a bank or any scintilla of information that gave the slightest indication that the email was legitimate.  Additionally, the grammar was deplorable.  All in all, this may be the most pitiful attempt at a scam that I have ever seen.  Obviously, what the scammer was trying to do was lure people into believing an emergency existed and they needed to provide information to resolve the problem.  Of course, this information would not be used to solve a problem, but rather for purposes of identity theft.


It is easy to immediately disregard such a lame attempt to solicit personal information, however, many scam artists are indeed “artists” and their lures to induce you into providing personal information that would be used to make you a victim of identity theft are of much higher quality and more believable.  The key thing to remember is that you never can trust that anyone sending you an email, text message or calling you on the phone is who they say they are.  If you believe that the communication requesting personal information may be legitimate, you still should not respond by providing the information requested, but rather should contact the real organization purporting to be contacting you at an email address, website or phone number that you have confirmed is correct to inquire as to the legitimacy of the original communication.  It is then that your fears will be confirmed and you will be told that indeed the initial communication was, in fact, a scam.

Scam of the day – February 27, 2014 – Another Nigerian letter that isn’t from Nigeria

February 27, 2014 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

Today’s Scam of the day comes right from my email and I am sure that it has appeared in the email boxes of many of you.  Although it may appear that the Nigerian email scam began in the era of the Internet, the basis of the scam actually goes back to 1588 when it was known as the Spanish Prisoner Scam.  In those days, a letter was sent to the victim purportedly from someone on behalf of a wealthy aristocrat who was imprisoned in Spain under a false name.  The identity of the nobleman was not revealed for security reasons, but the victim was asked to provide money to obtain the release of the aristocrat, who, it was promised would reward the money-contributing  victim with great sums of money and, in some circumstances, the Spanish prisoner’s beautiful daughter in marriage.

Today’s scam of the day is yet another variation of what has come to be known as the Nigerian letter scam.  In the various versions of this scam circulating on the Internet today, you are promised great sums of money if you assist a Nigerian in his effort to transfer money out of his country.  Variations include the movement of embezzled funds by corrupt officials, a dying gentleman who wants to make charitable gifts or a minor bank official trying to move the money of deceased foreigners out of his bank without the government taking it.  the example below of the email I received isn’t from Nigeria, but the scam is the same.  Although generally, you are told that you do not need to contribute anything financially to the endeavor, you soon learn that it is necessary for you to contribute continuing large amounts of money for various reasons, such as various fees, bribes, insurance or taxes before you can get anything.  Of course, the victim ends up contributing money to the scammer, but never receives anything in return.

Here is a copy of the email, I recently received:

“Dear Friend,
i need your kind attention. I will be very glad if  you do assist me to relocate this sum of ( US$15.Million dollars.) to your bank account for the benefit of our both families.
only i cannot operate it alone without using a Foreigner who will stand as a beneficiary to the money, that is why i decided to contact you in a good manner to assist me and also to share the benefit together with me.
for the sharing of the fund 50/50 base on the fact that it is two man business note that you are not taking any risk because there will be a legal back up document as well which will back the money up into your bank account there in your country.
all i need from you now is to indicating your interest and I will send you the full details on how the business will be executed.
Thanks & Best Regards,
Dr Lahman”


This is a simple scam to avoid.  It preys upon people whose greed overcomes their good sense.  The first thing you should ask yourself is why would you be singled out to be so lucky to be asked to participate in this arrangement.  Since there is no good answer to that question, you should merely hit delete and be happy that you avoided a scam.  As with many such scams, which are originating outside of the United States, the punctuation and grammar are not very good.


Scam of the day – July 11, 2013 – Email box exceeding capacity scam

July 11, 2013 Posted by Steven Weisman, Esq.

On occasion I will repeat a warning about a particular scam as it resurfaces and today is one of those days.  I have warned you previously about the scam in which you receive an email such as the two that are reproduced below that I personally received in my email box today in which you are told that you have exceeded your capacity and that if you do not click on the link included with the email to remedy the problem, your email account will be shut down.  This is a scam and like many scams, it relies on fear.  The truth is that your account will not be shut down for exceeding a specific number of emails.  Most importantly you should never click on a link, such as contained in this particular email because if you do, you will only end up unwittingly downloading a keystroke logging malware program that will steal all of your personal information from your computer and use that information to make you a victim of identity theft.  Merely delete the email.  If you have any questions as to the email’s legitimacy, call or email your email provider at a telephone number or email address that you know is accurate to find out the truth.

Here are copies of the two emails that I recently received.  DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINKS.

“Dear User,

Your e-mail account has exceeded its limit & needs to be verified, if not verified within 12hrs, we shall deactivate your account.

Validate Here



“Mailbox Quota size has exceeded its Quota limit for the month of June.QUOTA-SIZE: 89.00%
NOTE: You will be unable to send and receive messages at 92.8 % .
For mailbox cleanup CLICK HERE Management Page.Admin Help-desk.
© Copyright 2013″


These scam emails are both pretty shoddy.  They carry no logo of my email carrier.  The first has poor grammar.  Neither is signed and neither even indicate the name of my email carrier.  Never click on links in emails that you receive unless you are absolutely sure that the email is not a phony and never provide information to anyone who contacts you in an email unless you are sure that they are both legitimate and have a need for the information.  Even if the email appears to be legitimate, it may be a phony phishing email sent by an identity thief who has hacked someone’s legitimate email account.