While I, like all good and moral people, do believe that there should be a special circle in Hell reserved for those most vile members of humanity that create spam emails, every once in a while I come across some scheme that makes me take a step back and admire the chutzpah of some of these schemes.
Now, as it has been a part of my professional life combating these wasters of internet time and space, I have a slightly higher than your average internet patron's curiosity when it comes to reviewing my spam folders. And while most days I spare only a fleeting glance at the subjects before clicking on the Delete All button ( wondering all the while just what it says about our society that spam typically falls into a handful of standard categories: enlargements of body parts, counterfeit luxury watches, casino or lottery winning schemes, offers for "dates", and cheap drugs for varying effects. Who knew we were such a selfless society that really only wants to make our sexual organs bigger to enhance the enjoyment of our partners?) this time I found some new variants on that good old classic, the free money scheme.
I've come across two recently that made me raise an eyebrow in a fashion not unlike Spock's silent commentary on various quips by McCoy. The first is of the sort that I would consider plausible enough sounding that I could almost see it working. Essentially the scam works by convincing the spamee, that a parcel delivery service has an overseas package for them. Something clearly of some value, since it has been held up because the import duties on the package must be paid. You owe only a hundred Euros or so, and if you just contact the person responsible here, they can help you get that obviously important valuable package. This scam sounds just believable enough that I could see someone falling for it. What's more, it's cleverly not greedy. They could be trying to bilk you for even more, but hey if they just got 100 Euros, that's not bad for a dishonest day's work now is it?
Mind you, I don't think it's normally the provenance of a shipping company to worry about import duty and all that, but then I don't normally ship things of any substantive value across international borders so I could be wrong on that front. Of course, any time an email that's not specifically addressed to ME shows up, claiming that I've got some delivery that I don't know about, and asking me to not go through normal channels, but to contact the specific listed person only to deal with it, well that's like red flags from about a dozen different directions at once as far as I'm concerned. The day when scammers can reliably get our names right in those emails, and can make their requests so easy and innocuous, it will be a much more frustrating world.
Now the second one I figured to mention, well, wow. This one takes guts. This one is a doozy. First off, it purports to be from the FBI. Wow, talk about risky move. Last I recall falsely claiming you were from the FBI is some sort of crime isn't it? Wow. So the scammer claims to be from the FBI. But they don't stop there. This one says it's from the FBI AND that it's from the division that has been investigating fraud victim claims that were perpetrated by folks from West Africa. And that those victims are being compensated in the millions of dollars. So you must contact this guy out in Africa, and send them $200. Okay...okay. It's getting silly I know. But wait there's more. The FBI, according to this need to know your details, like your name, your phone number, your Occupation, etc, etc. Ha. It gets better. There's also the part where you've got three whole days to make this happen or the funds get seized by the FBI. And the pinnacle of the whole email, the part that almost had me falling out of my chair was this. Let me just quote it directly:
"Important: Our agents will visit you for arrest if you fail to comply fully with the below instructions."
Wow. The....the...I don't even know what. This spammer is threatening to arrest you if you don't open yourself up to fraud. I don't think I have the words for this one. I thought the folks that were trying to pass off the FBI as somehow now in charge of distributing lottery winnings had guts. This takes the cake. I am not even sure just how many laws this spammer is breaking. I mean, there's just fraud in general. I think once it's done through the internet, that might be wire fraud. There's got to be something about pretending to be an FBI agent, and of course, the threat of a false arrest. Just dizzying to see the whole they dig here. And if indeed the perpetrators are from Africa, (who can tell, just because the email mentions Africa doesn't mean it's not misdirection) it's not like it could easily be brought back to their doorstep to face any charges.
One thing I am glad about is that on the whole, it seems that anti-spam systems are getting better. These days, the amount of spam that actually makes its way into my inbox(es) is thankfully small.
So how about you, do you check your spam folder routinely, and if so what's the craziest spam you've gotten?