A scam letter is a document, distributed electronically or otherwise, to a recipient misrepresenting the truth with the aim of gaining an advantage in a fraudulent manner.
- 1 Origin
- 2 Types
- 3 Distribution
- 4 Law enforcement
- 5 Sample scam letter
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Currently it is unclear how far back the origin of scam letters date. The oldest reference to the origin of scam letters could be found at the Spanish Prisoner scam. This scam dates back to the 1580s, where the fictitious prisoner would promise to share non-existent treasure with the person who would send him money to bribe the guards.
Today scam letters are a general part of electronic life, ending up in mailboxes in hordes.
Lottery scam letter
Based on mostly the same principles as the Nigerian 419 advance-fee fraud scam, this scam letter informs recipients that their e-mail addresses have been drawn in online lotteries and that they have won large sums of money. Here the victims will also be required to pay substantial small amounts of money in order to have the winning money released, which never materializes.
Phishing scam letter
Phishing scam letters, in short, are a notification from an online 'financial institution', requiring its clients to log in to their accounts and verify or change their log-in details. A fraudulent website is set up by offenders, which appears to be the website of the actual financial institution. Once a victim follows the log-in link from the scam letter and logs in to the 'account', the log-in details are sent to the offenders.
Cheap Viagra and software product scam letter
This is yet another scam where the misrepresentation is made as an offer for cheap medical products and computer software. Often, when ordered, victims will not receive the goods or in certain instances a fake version of the goods ordered.
Dating love scam letter
Often users will find the letter from a young and attractive female wanting to meet or relocate to the users' country. After invoking their confidence trick on the user they will require the recipient of the scam letter to pay the funds necessary for the relocation. Once paid, the correspondence ends and the writer never appears.
Users of some Web sites are sometimes faced with invoices from Internet sites which they have visited. One company with a reputation for this is the Swiss-German based company Media Intense GmBH, which runs win-load.net. Users are asked to create an account before downloading a piece of software. The terms and conditions state that the account requires a subscription of 8 euros per month for a minimum of 24 months, but that the user forfeits the right to cancel. The user will then receive threatening invoices from the company.
Today there exist many forms of scam letters distributed on the Internet. The mentioned examples above acs as an indication of how these scam letters work and how victims are defrauded.
In the past, before the introduction of electronic communications, scam letters were posted by normal postal services, which had been a slow and tedious method of defrauding victims. Although this method tremendously decreased its appearance today, it still occurs that a victim might receive the posted scam letter.
Faxed scam letters are in no way an uncommon occurrence. Today many scam letters are still faxed to corporate institutions, although they are not a large amount due to cost restraints on behalf of offenders.
E-mail is today the prevalent way in which scam letters are distributed. Due to its cost-effectiveness and international reach, offenders prefer this method as victims are reached in a much more timely manner.
Forums and chat rooms
Often offenders will target busy Internet-based forums and chat rooms where they will circulate their scam letters to registered users.
Generally, law enforcement agencies from around the world are interested in scam letters where actual losses incurred upon a victim. Due to the sheer volume of scam letters distributed on the Internet, no law enforcement agency will be in a position to investigate every scam letter reported.
Most law enforcement agencies, however, introduced a method of reporting scam letters to them. Information on reporting scam letter to them can be found at The Nigerian Scam Defined.
During August 2007, a new private initiative, ScamLetters.com, was launched with the aim of assisting law enforcement agencies by relieving the burden of scam letter reports, as well as assisting in scam letter investigations by availing a unique database for reporting of scam letters by the public.
Edna Fiedler, 44, of Olympia, Washington, on June 25, 2008, pleaded guilty in a Tacoma court and was sentenced to two years imprisonment and five years of supervised release or probation in an Internet $1 million "Nigerian check scam". She conspired to commit bank, wire and mail fraud against US citizens, specifically using Internet by having an accomplice ship counterfeit checks and money orders to her from Lagos, Nigeria in November 2007. Fiedler shipped out $609,000 fake check and money orders when arrested and prepared to send additional $1.1 million counterfeit materials. Also, the U.S. Postal Service intercepted $2.1 billion in counterfeit checks, lottery tickets and eBay overpayment schemes with a face value of $2.1 billion.
Sample scam letter
Below is a sample scam letter.
Sample scam letter:
From: Mrs Barakat Farouk. Address: Rue 22 akpapka godomey segbeya cotonou,Benin Republic
I am the above named person but now undergoing medical treatment now. I am married to Dr.Azhar Farouk who worked with Belgium embassy in for nine years before he died in the year 2004. We were married for eleven years without a child.He died after a brief illness that lasted for only two weeks. Before his death we were both Christians.
Since his death I decided not to re-marry or get a child outside my matrimonial home which the Bible is against.When my late husband was alive he Presently,There is this US$10.5Million and 350kg of dust Gold,my husband has deposited with a security company which I am the next of kin.
With my health condition,I am looking for a credible person to whom I will pass the right of next of kin Recently,my Doctor told me that I would not last for the next six months due to cancer problem.
Though what disturbs me most is my stroke.Having known my condition I decided to donate this fund to church or better still a christian individual that will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct here in.I want a church or individual to use this fund to churches, orphanages and widows propagating the word of God and to ensure that the house of God is properly maintained.
The Bible made us to understand that Blessed is the hand that giveth.I took this decision because I don't have any child that will inherit this money and my husband relatives are not Christians and I don't want my husband's hard earned money to be misused by unbelievers and people who don,t have human sympathy.I don't want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly manner,hence the reason for taking this bold decision.
I am not afraid of death hence I know where I am going.I know that I am going to be in the bossom of the Lord.Exodus 14 VS 14 says that the lord will fight my case and I shall hold my peace.I don't need any telephone communication in this regard because of my health,and because of the presence of my husband's relatives around me always while they await to hear a word from me if they will know any secret regarding my husband trasure as they are aware that we have nobody to inherit it and that is why they don,t want to give me any support to live.
I don't want them to know about this development.With God all things are possible. As soon as I receive your reply,My husband personal attorney will contact you as i will not e able to communicate to as often as you might need.
I want you and the church to always pray for me because the lord is my shepherd.My happiness is that I lived a life of a worthy Christian.Whoever that wants to serve the Lord must serve him in spirit and truth Please always be prayerful all through your life.Any delay in your reply will give me room in sourcing for a church or christian individual for this same purpose.Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I stated herein.
NB:reply back to this mail address given: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hoping to hear from you. you are blessed in the name of the Lord.
Mrs Barakat Farouk.
- Confidence tricks
- Spanish Prisoner
- Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Nigerian financial authority mandated to investigate against advance fee frauds
- PhoneBusters, a Canadian law enforcement project combatting advance fee fraud
- Nigerian organized crime
- Scams that Keep Being Used on People
- The Nigerian Scam Defined
- upi.com, Woman gets prison for 'Nigerian' scam
- yahoo.com, Woman Gets Two Years for Aiding Nigerian Internet Check Scam (PC World)
- ScamLetters.com - Mrs. Barak Farouk
- Baiterbase scam email database, live
- Alternative live source of scam emails from Baiterbase
- Nigerian 419 Fraud Scam Letter Database
- .NExT Web Security: Reporting Scam Letters & Searchable Scam Letter Database
- Reporting Scam Letters - Online Scam Letter Database
- 419 Nigerian Advanced Fee Fraud - Scam Lifecycle (© .NExT Web Security)
- Nigeria - The 419 Coalition Website
- Reporting Economic Crime On-Line (RECOL) Canada