E-Mail Scams

Home There have always been those looking to separate the gullible with their money. And like everybody who makes their money by legitimate means, scam artists are using the Internet too. Most online scams use e-mail to make initial contact with potential suckers who are unknowingly willing to toss their money away. Scammers gather e-mail addresses the exact same ways every other spammer obtains e-mail addresses. There are few different ways that scammers that use to make money.

Advance Fee Fraud (419) or Nigerian Millionaire

These are the scam e-mails that have been circulating the longest and still the most common. The initial e-mail claims to be from (or somebody representing) a Millionaire or king or president of some underprivileged country. Countries in Africa are commonly seen in these scam e-mails but Nigeria is the most popular. The purported sender needs to move millions of dollars out of the country and in exchange anybody willing to ‘help’ will reap a share of the fortune. As the scammer builds a trust with the potential victim the scammer will as for the victim’s banking information and will eventually as for a sum of money to pay some kind of fee or taxes. After the victim hands over the money, the scammer can no longer be contacted.

European Lottery

This is a variation of the Advance Fee Fraud that has been making the rounds through peoples’ e-mailboxes for a few years. The e-mail exclaims that the recipient has won a lottery in some country in Europe. When the victim goes to claim the prize, they get a response that there are taxes that need to be paid in order to claim the prize. When the victim sends the money to pay the outstanding ‘taxes’ no prize arrives and the scammer cannot be contacted.

Pump and Dump Stock Scam

This scam first made its appearance in e-mail back in the dot-com boom days of the late 1990’s. The scammers promote the stocks of companies with very low prices with the promise that the price will rise drastically and substantial profits will be made if an investment is made. What the scammers never admit is that they own shares in the companies that they are promoting. The low value stocks trade in very low volume so any buying or selling will move the price of the stocks. When people buy the stocks being promoted raising the price the scammers sell their shares often times forcing the stock price down to below where the price was before the scammers’ promotion. Scammers can also engage in short selling where they can borrow shares to sell with the expectation that the price of the shares will further decline. When the stock price falls even further as people who bought shares when the scammers’ promotion began starts dumping their shares the scammers buy shares at discount to return.


This is the most high tech of all the e-mail scams that exist today. An e-mail arrives claiming to be from e-bay, Paypal or some bank. The e-mail states that due to a security breach the potential victim has to re-confirm their account information. These e-mails contain links to an official looking web site with a form to fill in all the information that identity thieves need to clean bank accounts and run up huge credit card bills. Banks and online commerce companies have back up systems that back up other back up systems so they will never contact to you by e-mail. In the highly unlikely event of a security breach your bank will notify you in writing in the event that your financial data should ever fall into the hands of third parties.

While most people delete these scam e-mails without reading them there are some who read them and fall for the scam. Why do you think you still get these e-mails? Remember if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

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