by Mike Masnick

How Many More Warnings Do People Need Not To Be Fooled By Scams?

from the greedy-bastards dept

We've joked in the past that it's somewhat stunning in this day and age that it's stunning that anyone doesn't yet know how advance fee 419 "Nigerian" scams work. However, as the saying (not said by P.T. Barnum) goes, "there's a sucker born every minute." You might even be able to make a convincing argument that internet time has sped up the sucker creation process. Still, most of these scams work by focusing on the victim's own greed -- which sometimes makes it pretty difficult to feel sorry for them. It also makes you wonder just how much of an effort should people be making to prevent these types of frauds? Over in China they're getting a lot of attention as the advance fee scammers have gone beyond email to actually calling people up to tell them they've won a ton of money that they'll never see. Even more interesting is this tidbit, submitted by Jo Faughnan, that Western Union is trying to catch and stop scam related money transfers in order to protect scam victims (this following some sort of legal settlement that isn't clearly explained). It's obviously a good thing to try to stop these scams, and we've seen (tragically) just how convinced some people are by these scammers (to the point of never believing they were scammed). However, at some point, don't the people who jumped into these scams excitedly trying to get their hands on some stolen money need to take responsibility for their own actions?

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    STJ, Nov 16th, 2005 @ 6:01pm

    No Subject Given

    I work for an online money transfer company... Yes, I have talked to people who give away all their information, then call in and say it clicked.... after they hit the submit button. They, of course, blaim us after that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    scammer squirrel, Nov 16th, 2005 @ 6:39pm

    Why protect people from scams?

    Because the 419 scam is the famous Pigeon Drop scam. It comes in forms that does not appeal to greed, or the promise of sharing in ill gotten gains.

    I have been approached with very reasonable proposals by several parties in sales that proposed up front payment to get later payment that had reasonable circumstances involved. Only my demand that such deals be all cash up front, making any party to any deal I do be the one who finances the deal, or I pass, do I avoid any possiblity of this happening.

    There are ways that are very subtle that allow these con artists to work their ways without the obvious 419 LETTER IN CAPS.

    A better question would be why does anyone commit large amounts of their net worth to anyone whether it comes thru a 419 letter, the mailbox, the idiots on the higher channels on TV selling real estate scams, or whatever without demanding a better way of doing the deal?

    Why would anyone pay $10,000 to find out how to buy real estate without any money down? why is that allowed?

    The internet is a smokescreen and if Western Union is slowing down transfers of money, then the scams will stand a better chance of collapsing before any one gets hurt (in any particular instance)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Rikko, Nov 16th, 2005 @ 6:51pm


    As long as people refuse to learn that there ain't no such thing as a free lunch, there will be victims.

    My sympathy wanes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Jason, Nov 16th, 2005 @ 7:54pm

    No Subject Given

    as long as there are old people their will be scams.. I wonder if our internet savvy and world weary cynical generation will be as easily fooled 20-30 years as the baby boomers and their parents are. It's amazing what someone can persuade a naive old lady to do over the phone or even the internet. To answert the question, you can never tell people enough about scams, like Barnum said there is a sucker born every day

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Stoned4Life, Nov 16th, 2005 @ 8:02pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    They can blame all they want, in the end it's their fault. You can't count how many get rich quick schemes are out there. I've heard of people that have gone broke buying hundreds of them. Kind of the opposite effect eh?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous, Nov 16th, 2005 @ 8:52pm

    No Subject Given m/peter_azu.html

    The first site is like the index, but for some reason, I saved it wrong, so that will hopefully change tomorrow or the day after, the second site is a conversation I am having with this Nigerian scammer, he actually called me by phone.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Jared Anderson, Nov 17th, 2005 @ 1:18am

    Re: No Subject Given

    That was a pretty interesting read "Anonymous".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    thecaptain, Nov 17th, 2005 @ 5:33am

    Re: No Subject Given

    Not really, they just weren't careful about WHO "gets rich quick" with those schemes and thought it was them who'd get rich, rather than the scammers.

    A simple misconception :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    robowimp, Nov 17th, 2005 @ 10:19am

    Re: Why protect people from scams?

    Ultimately most cons do come down to greed - at least "greed" with a small "g" - and the almost infinite ability of people to con themselves.
    "Oh, I'm just helping someone in a bad situation." Right. A total stranger that the victim has never met.
    A recurring theme in many a con involves the promise of allowing the victim to obtain some personal gain in the guise of performing some admirable, generous, or altruistic act. Thus the victim cons himself.
    Self-delusion is the vector these scams use to do their damage.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    PB, Nov 17th, 2005 @ 12:43pm

    Scamming the 419 Scammers

    This is about a guy named Failure that scams the 419 scammers. It's just unbelievable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Holly, Nov 23rd, 2005 @ 1:30pm

    money order scams

    They are all over Georgia too. Someone got a hold of my mailing address and sent me four bogus money orders that claim were to be Walmart money orders. I wanted to make sure that they were bogus then take it to the police. Don't think they believeme. Well, one deputy doesn't but others do. I tried to get the police to call me back because I have some more info for them regarding the person that sent them to me. But they still won't return my calls.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    christine, Jan 5th, 2009 @ 3:01pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    how can i get connect with doing this

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Jc, Oct 2nd, 2009 @ 6:58pm


    In 2005, Western Union was to start warning people about scams. I work in a bank. I used to see about one a month, maybe. Now I'm seeing much much more. We as a bank warn our customers. Yet, the ones that get through, western union still is not warning. Is it that hard to provide a simple disclosure to people to review and sign? Or at least educate your staff that if someone is sending 3-4k to a foreign country to maybe ask why? Wire transfers are already heavily regulated by the PATRIOT act. Why not money transfers?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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