Archive for April, 2010

Play It Again Scams…

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Here we go again! Some old email scams have started resurfacing. Over the last week, a few clients have received emails that are simply revised email scams that were rampant over the last couple of years. One involves a scam trying to pull on Americans’ heart strings that is supposedly from a US Army soldier in Iraq. Another tries to scare you and involves the US Internal Revenue Service – I guess the scammers agree that timing is everything.

The first email, I received this one myself earlier this week, is supposedly from Lt. Jane Bowe (but the name frequently changes) with a United States Army medical team deployed in Iraq.
The text of the email follows:

“Greetings,
I know you would be surprised to read from someone relatively unknown to you. My name is Lt. Jane Bowe, a member of the U.S. ARMY USARPAC Medical Team, which was deployed to Iraq at the beginning of the war in Iraq.
I would like to share some highly personal classified information about my personal experience and role which I played in the pursuit of my career serving under the U.S 1st Armored which was at the fore-front of the war in Iraq.
Though, I would like to hold back certain information for security reasons for now until you have found the time to visit the BBC website stated below to enable you have an insight into what I intend sharing with you, believing that it would be of your desired interest one-way or the other.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2988455.stm

Also, could you get back to me having visited the above website to enable us discuss in a more clarifying manner to the best of your understanding. I must say that I’m very uncomfortable sending this message to you without knowing truly if you would misconstrue the importance and decides to go public. In this regards, I will not hold back to say that the essence of this message is strictly for mutual benefit between you and I and nothing more.
I will be vivid and coherent in my next message in this regards, meanwhile, could you send me an email confirming that you have visited the site and that you have understood my intentions? I will await your thoughts via my personal email.
Thanks,
Best Regards
Lt. Jane Bowe”

The link in the body of the email actually goes to a legitimate BBC story from 2003 about US troops finding millions of dollars in a Baghdad neighborhood but this not always the case. Never click on links or attachments in emails like this as they are often viruses just waiting to be activated. The intent of the email seems to be a kind of “phishing” expedition to make contact with greedy or otherwise gullible individuals in a financing scam. The email seems to have originated through a UK-based Live Mail email server. This email itself is not dangerous but responding to these individuals in “get rich quick” schemes can be very dangerous to your bank accounts. Do not respond to these types of emails – simply delete them.

The second email that has been hitting inboxes recently is supposedly from the Internal Revenue Service and requests information like your social security number, bank account numbers, or pin numbers. Let it be known that the IRS will not contact you by email. This email scam tries to trick you into thinking you that the IRS is contacting you because of a refund, because you are under criminal investigation regarding your recent tax return, or it may refer to a non-existent tax form that you need to submit to complete your return. These emails may also contain links or attachments that contain viruses. Do not click on the links or open the attachments. The IRS is aware of the email scam and has posted information on its website where you can find out more. The address is:

http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=155682,00.html

In general, email scams are becoming more and more prevalent as the world’s economies continue to stagnant and people are trying to find a way to steal from you. It was commonplace to find misspellings and grammatical errors in these emails in the past but the scammers are getting better at writing “American” letters. Most of these scams can be traced back to Indonesia, Malaysia, some of the former Soviet Republics, and African nations, but they can originate anywhere in the world. Email servers like Hotmail, Gmail, AOL and Yahoo mail can be accessed worldwide. Knowledge is your best defense. If you’re curious about an email you have received, “google” it. Open a search engine like Google, Bing or Yahoo and search for a line or two from the email. You may be surprised how rampant these things are. Just be careful and don’t get scammed.