Email scams are common and are still being thrown around the Internet, with scammers, hackers, and phishers all trying desperately to reel unsuspecting victims in.
The email scams that you are about to read are ridiculous, but they work!
That’s right. These scams actually cost people a lot of money. Think of it as a robber trying to rob a bank creatively, but this time, you got people involved in all sorts of comedic hi-jinx.
Take note that some of these emails are still circulating, so don’t fall prey to any of them.
The Nigerian Prince Scam or 4190
We’ve all seen this email at least once or twice in our lifetime. This is an email purportedly coming from a Nigerian prince or a member of a rich Nigerian family who is seeking YOUR HELP. In almost all emails concerning the Nigerian prince scam, it always involves a large amount of money that needs to be transported/deposited/transferred from one account to another and in exchange for your small help, you will be rewarded with a small percentage of that wealth, say, 10% of $100 billion dollars. Too tempting to resist, isn’t it?
One variation of such an email concerns a woman claiming that her husband died and that she wanted to leave a good fortune to a good church.
So how does this work?
First, the email is not like any average bot-generated content. The tone of the email gives off a very human vibe and will use your emotions and willingness to help against you.
Because the bank account that holds the “fortune” is being trapped by some legal circumstance in some foreign country (like US or the UK), you will be asked as a temporary escrow to cover the legal and fees to release the money from the bank account.
You will then be asked to deposit this amount to the bank account that’s supposed to receive the legal fees. Then to make things sweeter, the scammer will also ask for your bank details so he or she can wire you your share of the money once they receive the entire fortune.
You do shell out the money, but you never receive your share of the fortune.
The Nigerian Astronaut Lost in Space Email Scams
To make matters even more funny for the Nigerian scams, there’s one that just recently came out of the woodwork – The Nigerian Astronaut Lost in Space.
If a prince was too good to be true, then an astronaut should be straight up absurd.
Anorak acquired a copy of the website and couldn’t resist sharing a copy of the plight of Abacha Tunde, Nigeria’s first astronaut. According to the email, he was on board a secret Soviet space station when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1990 (actual year is 1991).
He was still getting paid for his ongoing solitary service, which amounts to $15 million overall. You could get 20% of that estimated wealth if you just shouldered the $3 million to fund the mission to bring him back home (think Matt Damon in “The Martian”).
Just like the Nigerian prince, the astronaut requests someone to pay the upfront costs as Nigerian law forbids civil servants to open foreign accounts.
There has never been a Nigerian person in space before nor is it possible for anyone to stay in space since the 90’s without many cargo runs in between. On top of that, the email states that he’s been there for 14 years when he was stranded back in 1990. It would’ve suggested that it was old, but it’s not a good idea to fact-check the email, is it?
The “Help me steal from my own bank” email scams
You read it right. The scam, despite having a lot of monikers, revolves around a person asking help from another person to steal from his own bank.
Let that sink in for a while.
Working on the subset of the Advance Fee Fraud, a bank manager will come forward and present himself as the true owner of a dormant account worth millions. Remember that Nigerian widow? Yeah… You’re going to claim the fortune and split it with him.
He only needs your trust, honesty, and never-ending fees that you need to pay via Western Union.
Why is this ridiculous?
The scammer obviously works on the premise of honesty on your part, even though he is lying, cheating, and stealing from his end. When questioned, scammers often reply with “This is just a business deal” quip.
That line makes the entire thing funny! The upside-down morality of these scammers reflects that their own work of deceit is JUST A BUSINESS DEAL to them.
Thanks a lot!
The “We’re sending your money via ATM Card” email scams
This scam works on the variation of a Lottery Scam, where an email is sent to you and tells you that you just won a million dollars in a fake lottery that you never entered from a country you never visited.
But in this scam, you’re getting your prize via an ATM card worth millions of dollars and all you have to do is… drum roll… PAY FOR CARD DELIVERY.
Okay, let’s be rational here. Forget for a moment that banks send ATM cards via snail mail without charge. ATMs also access money from bank accounts. Of course, ATMs can’t hold much money because banks would go bankrupt keeping them stocked. This is one reason why banks set a withdrawal amount restriction per day.
If your bank restricts you to $300 a day and you’re claiming a $12.5 million dollar prize, you need to return to the ATM every day for the next 114 years, give or take a few months.
The “I don’t know you, but I love you” email scams
I don’t even know where to begin with this one… It’s like a soap opera gone bad.
This one works on the premise of romance. The scammer portrays an impatient romantic individual who can’t wait to get your money. You may have replied to an email with the title “I like your profile” email because you just couldn’t resist an email calling your “Darling” on the subject line.
He or she will supply pictures, obviously fake and almost always not a stock photo, and will try to jump right in to ask for money.
What’s so ridiculous about this?
If you’re going to ask me for my money, at least ask me about my hobbies or what my favourite movies are. Laugh at my jokes or tell me I have the nicest complexion. Anything that would validate my existence in your life.
This scam is like a reverse Nigerian widow, with the person still alive and well and looking to get married to get rich rather than assume a dead spouse to get rich.
The bottom line
These ridiculous email scams actually worked and have scammed people for hundreds or thousands of their hard-earned money. The recipients, or the scammers, are now probably in a beautiful island somewhere spending their loot.