Scammers are obvious

We all get scam emails and calls and the like.

I find them obvious, and so do my friends, but I live in fear that someone will be cunning enough to fool me.

Indeed, I ponder what steps would be needed to fool me, and feel there are not that many, and that worries me.

But I realised now, as several have pointed out, that this is deliberate. Scammers are not so stupid! There is a reason the emails have iffy logos and bad grammar. It is to weed out, well, me!

Basically, there are people with some clue and they are the people scammers do not wish to engage. They are the people that will both take up their time and not get them any money.

So the scams look obvious and broken and badly worded. They don't need to try and fool me. In fact they want me to immediately see through it and hang up or delete the email and let them concentrate on the muggles.

Why did I not realise this before - maybe I am not that smart?!


  1. I don't think you should rely on this in general, even if it is true for certain types of simple scam. There are repeated stories in the newspapers at the moment about solicitors being tricked (by email) into parting with money out of client accounts, and lots of seemingly reasonably intelligent people have fallen for elaborate telephone-based banking scams.

    Fraudsters are perfectly prepared to engage with people who consider themselves to be clever if the rewards are sufficient.

    Just as everyone can invent an encryption scheme that they can't see how to break, I suspect we all utterly fail to imagine how the fraud that will eventually take us in will work - even though it will seem absurdly (and crushingly embarrassingly) obvious afterwards.

  2. In your previous post, you wrote "an official body which nobody would be stupid enough to think could be paid in iTunes vouchers."

    Well, Tom Woods in his radio show recently broadcast a call he recorded with an IRS scammer who asked for "overdue taxes" to be paid in shop vouchers.

    I suspect that the scammers cannot use any other means of payment, such as credit cards, PayPal etc. as that might make them traceable, so that's why they revert to the shopping voucher route of payment. It indeed takes a very gullible person to believe that a government agency could be paid in shopping vouchers. http://tomwoods.com/podcast/ep-729-the-real-story-of-the-epipen-fiasco-plus-tom-takes-on-scammers-over-the-phone/
    That's why the scammers need to target the very uneducated/very stupid/very gullible.

    But they scammers are missing a trick. They should request payment in Bitcoin. "The IRS now accept payment in Bitcoin, which is the fastest way to settle your overdue tax." That sounds plausible! Just direct the victim to an instant Bitcoin buying site.

  3. It depends on targeting. The mass scammers want gullible. However, there are targeted scampers who will research you before targeting you, and they're the big worry.

  4. I like to think i spot all scammers but one got me. An email asking to buy a domain i had. Offered 60% of the valuation provided by any of 5 appraisal companies. I checked each out and prices were all >$400usd bar one at 39.99. I bought it and i did get an appraisal, but then no replies to my emails about it.

    The email sender knows people would be put of by all but 1 of the fees, and obviously profits from it. Lesson Learned.


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