The Nigerian 419 scammers pretty much set the standard for obvious scam attempts with their emails pretending to be from a deposed prince desperate to move a treasure in gold out of the country.
So desperate, in fact, that he would email a perfect stranger in America to request access to his or her bank account so he could park his fortune there, paying a generous fee for the help, of course.
You had to hand it to the Nigerian guys, though, they had a certain story-telling style that made getting one of their emails almost fun – like we were in on the joke. We don't hear much from our Nigerian friends these days but Tuesday, what had to be the lamest attempt at a scam we've seen in quite a while landed in our in-box.
It was from the “U.S. Department of Compensation.” Dead giveaway right off the bat. There is no Department of Compensation, unless you want to count Congress. Also, the email domain was .lk, the top level domain for Sri Lanka.
“We wish to notify you as one of the lucky beneficiary of $265,000 in compensation of scam victims and if you are lucky to receive this message then you have been chosen as one Lucky winner,” the email begins.
In addition to the fractured syntax and poor grammar, the author can't emphasize enough how lucky the recipient is.
To receive the money, the lucky recipient must choose a delivery method – an overnight check or a bank transfer. If you were to choose overnight check, there would almost certainly be an unexpected snafu that would prevent that – and alas, the money would have to be directly transferred into a bank account.
The lucky recipient is also instructed to provide their full name, address, and telephone number. That's because the scammer, in addition to hoping to break into a few bank accounts, is also almost certainly compiling a list of easy scam victims that will be marketed to other scammers.
For many, not a laughing matter
It's easy to laugh off these sorts of clumsy attempts to trick consumers out of money, but, unfortunately, it isn't funny. Far too many people fall for these sorts of come-ons.
They do so for different reasons but often it's out of desperation. When someone is at their end of his financial rope and is told it's their lucky day, there's a strong desire to believe.
But someone responding to one of these scams will find that that luck will go from bad to worse.
Here's what the Federal Trade Commission has to say about email scams.