An old scam takes a new homegrown tack

You’ve probably seen this scenario in your email box a few times. Someone has lots of money they can’t get to, and wants your help in securing it. Just send a reply, and that’ll start the wheels turning. 

But these can be sniffed out a mile away. They’re usually from someone in Nigeria, or some other third-world country.

I received another one of these scam notes in my email, with a different angle to it. Instead of someone claiming royal blood in some country most people can’t find on a map, this one looks all-American. Like, from a U.S. serviceman:

“I am Capt. Bruce Evan Roberts, with the US Navy Joint Special Operations,USS COLORADO around Gulf of Aden, I have $9Million US Dollars in my possession,which was seized/confiscated from somalia pirates between Yemen and Somalia Waters in Gulf of Aden, we want to move the funds out of the USS COLORADO around Gulf of Aden to a secure location to enable you assist us in investing it in a profit oriented business.”

And here’s the pitch:

“I need someone I can trust to actualize this venture, you will receive this funds through a secured US Military Delivery Freight duly authorized/legalize by Middle East Regional Command. The funds would be kept for us safely by you until I am discharge of my duties here in the USS COLORADO around Gulf of Aden by January 2010. Do respond back to me indicating your response so I can further discussions with you on the safe movement of the funds out of here and how much commission you shall be entitled to from the $9Million. Please do respond to my personal e-mail: brucerobertss@hotmail.co.uk …”

A couple of obvious red flags. The letter did not come from his personal email box, but from mr.frankies@att.net — and it’s sent to “undisclosed recipients.” Even inspecting the source HTML code of the letter doesn’t provide any more information than that.

And then, the gist of the letter was enough of a warning. My personal bullscat detector, well, the needle was buried in the red.

Hey, uh, Captain Bruce, baby (if that’s who you are). I’d like to extend the same advice I once offered in an online forum after someone responded to my opinions by flaming my shorts off: You just might want to check to see if your identity has been stolen lately. Some jerkface is using your name.

As for y’all email recipients, it goes like this. Despite the American-as-pizza-pie, score-one-for-our-country trappings in the letter, treat it the same as when some Nigerian gazillionaire or Moroccan princess or Venezuelan dictator offers a share in the booty via email. To wit:

See that key on the upper right of your keyboard, the one marked DEL over there? Yeah, that one. It’s made for emails like that. Use it with extreme prejudice.

Supporting our troops doesn’t include falling into some scam that’s using the name of one of our servicemen.

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