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Advance-Fee and other letter scams

Updated 13 October 2019

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Letter based scams are a dying format with fewer people receiving physical letters. Many people are also more clued up and mail servers are faster at responding to spam techniques. We thought that we would break from our usual miscellaneum and discuss advance-fee scams and other types of fraud. Anyone can be duped because these are confidence based scams. We also point the reader to online resources that are free to read if you want to know more.

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From Wikipedia:

An advance-fee scam, is a type of fraud and one of the most common types of confidence trick. The scam typically involves promising the victim a significant share of a large sum of money, in return for a small up-front payment, which the fraudster requires in order to obtain the large sum. If a victim makes the payment, the fraudster either invents a series of further fees for the victim, or simply disappears.

The Internet Archive has a number of samples of scam letters that have been mailed to people of the years. These letters are hilarious with unbelievable scenarios and numerous typographical errors. There is an unfortunate dark side when unsuspecting people are scammed through these letters. We have linked a couple of samples as a warning of the dangers of unsolicited scam letters.

Common examples of scam letters

The article author has received many scam letters and phishing emails over the years, ahem, decades. Once your name was on a Nigerian mailing list in the 1980s and 1990s, then you could expect a regular flow of scam contact points. Most people joked about how bad they were but people still fell for the confidence tricks. We have given four examples below from past years that are typical of an email scam. Note the declarations of authority that are counter point with poor grammar. And to think that as children we would ask the teacher why it was important to spell. Maybe Miss Jane from third class should have responded, "learn to spell or you may turn into a scam artist."

Chinese Attorney Scam

Chinese Attorney Scam
[www.archive.org]

Attorney General scam letter

Attorney General scam letter
[www.archive.org]

Supervisor of Elections letter scam

Supervisor of Elections letter
[www.archive.org]

Canada Post parcel delivery phising letter scam

Fake Canad Post delivery
[www.archive.org]

Free books about preventing letter scams

There is little use in pointing you to examples of advance-fee scam and phishing-scam letters without give you some helpful resources in what you can do in these situations. The best protection that people can give themselves is education. These resources are free and aimed to help people in difficult situations. The first resources is an eBook on surviving a romance scam.

The Scam Survivors Handbook

It is only fair to point the reader to the unsavory experiences people have when they have been scammed. I have linked a book on the Archive from people who have experienced romance scams. It makes for difficult reading. People's lives have been left emotionally and financially ruined. The book claims that most people scammed had never heard of the scam they fell prey to until it was too late. Thankfully, people and authorities are spreading the word about scams and giving valuable advice before it is too late.

Romance scam victims (scam survivors indeed) share their experiences with the world, together with educational content on how to deal with online dating and social networking sites scammers, who just assume dozens of fake identities to tell us lies and to steal money.

The ugly truth about chain letters

Dan Squier has written an interesting book about chain letters. This book is available for read at the Internet Archive. Dan gets straight to the point about the desire for money and what it can make a desperate person do. No one really knows who originated the first chain letter. The important thing to note about a chain letter isn't so much the content but as a meme that self-generates and is non-ending when it is started. The chain letter only needs to be initiated in order to create its virus like spread of destruction. The objective is about recruiting the vulnerable. The three biggest chain letter types are, (i) financial gains chains, (ii) collection chains, and (iii) prayer and good luck chaining.

Like advance-fee and romance scams, the victims of a chain letter are had to be describe. They come from all walks of life and can be anyone who sees themselves as opportunity seekers, business owners, housewives, college students, and anyone else with a pulse.

Boulder police raise awareness of the potential for scams

Note that the video publisher has not endorsed this article. The video is served directly by archive.org from this webpage. Please read archive.org's privacy and copyright policy. The opinions expressed may not reflect the opinion of this site.

A special donation made to you

Imagine if you will that you are going through your latest emails and find this email preview. Do you (a) instantly hit the trash can icon, or (b) do open the email and read the plea for help? [Hint: Answer a - hit delete] I mean who is this Eduardo person anyway that feels like emailing you out of the blue saying that they made a special donation for you? What sort of donation is worth doing for someone that you have no relationship with?

We will save you the drama and show you what is in the email. The email is apparently from someone identifying themselves as Eduardo Villanueva Lopez. We apologize to any real and honest person who also has this name. It is more likely to be a pseudonym derived from the Eduardo Villanueva District located in Peru. Oh, this phising email just smells rotten.

The addressee email reference didn't pull up anything in the search. Be warned that this field is just a text field that email programs can write any value to so do not trust the from field. Strangely enough, there is an email address in the email that is totally different to the from address field. There is also a totally false claim that this is the third attempt to contact me. Well, let's see .... No. No it isn't.

We performed a cursory search for the charlesjacksondonationn@gmail dot com address and the first hit was to the Scam Warners (wayback) website. Scam Warners lists this email address as a source of Advance Fee Fraud. Please, keep protect yourself from scams and advance fee fraud.

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