Internet and Email Scams
The power of the Internet and email communication has made it all
too easy for these scams to flourish.
Those in need of extra cash (or those who fancy easy $$) are
often tempted by these schemes which certainly sound easy.
The old adage continues to be dead on target, "If it
sounds too good to be true it probably is". The only people who
make money on these schemes are the instigators. Participate, and
you will inevitably lose yours!
These schemes often arrive uninvited by email. Many
are related to the well-documented "Nigerian
Scam" or Lotto Scams and use similar
tactics in one form or another.
The Westpac Bank Scam
is extremely dangerous as it attempts to extract your Internet
Banking details by posing as the valid Westpac Internet Banking
site. Now the perpetrators are trying the same scam with the St
George Bank !
The Lotto Scam
They send you an email announcing that you are the lucky winner
of a fantastic lottery win (US$1.2 million or more!). The twist is
that the lottery companies they claim are awarding the prizes are
usually real and quite legitimate. Unfortunately the emails are not!
Here are some examples:
If you respond, they typically send you an application form to
fill in. Either they want you to give them the number of your bank
account, ostensibly to remit your win, or you are required to pay a
sizable sum of money to cover security, insurance, or administration
Once you’ve sent them the money, or they have helped themselves
to your bank account, you won’t hear much of them any more. You
won’t see anything again of the money they got from you, least of
all the lottery win they lured you with at the start.
on Lottery scams.
How can you tell if it's a scam?
We've been asked how to tell if these sorts of emails are scams
or the real thing. Since you're reading this now I can assume that
you've been keen to check the validity of these emails by doing some
research. So you've been wise and looked to see if there was any
information on this, so you've already taken the first step.
- Do some research. If your email looks similar to others
found on scam sites. It's VERY likely to be a scam.
- Did you enter this lottery? If you did not buy a
ticket, you cannot win a prize. Lotteries do not give
away these vast sums of money to people who did not buy a
ticket. That's a sure way for them to go broke!
- Do they know your name? Is the email addressed to your
full name? Don't you think they would address the email
personally to you and not just sir/madam?
- Why send an email? If you had truly won such a vast sum
of money, you would expect notification by registered post,
telegram or at least a phone call. Not by something as
unreliable and unsecured as email.
Yes we'd all like to think that good fortune such as this might
one day land in our laps, that's why people get easily hooked by
these scams. Think about it....
The Nigerian Scam
An allegedly corrupt Nigerian official (or widow of a former
official) contacts businesses, claiming to be seeking ways to divert
funds offshore. The scam operator promises victims shares of huge
amounts of money in exchange for bank account details, business
letterheads and so on. Victims are told the promoter needs
"advance funds" to bribe other officials. Needless to say
you will never see your advanced funds again. Here's
The Nigerian Scam is, according to published reports, the Third
to Fifth largest industry in Nigeria. Most letters and emails
originate from or are traceable back to Nigeria. However, some
originate from other nations, mostly also West African nations such
as Ghana, Togo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast. Many of the
people involved in this scam are Nigerian government and bank
employees, some operating at the highest levels. The impressive
looking government letterheads and bank seals are real! Some victims
who have traveled to Nigeria in an attempt to recover their funds
have put their lives in danger. Such is the endemic nature of this
fraud in this country.
It seems there are an endless variety of these scams, all with
different tales to tell. We are becoming so accustomed to them now
we read them with some amusement at the different ways they twist
the same old scenario into a new fairy-tale.
Not so amusing of course, are the lives that are ruined when
people are sucked in by these emails.
We list them here so you can be sure and safe:
For more information on scams see:
Nigerian Scam Defined
The Secret World of Financial Fraud
Australian Government's Scamwatch
Scams and Swindlers - ASIC
Victorian Consumer Affairs: Scams on the Internet
Federal Trade Commission - consumer alert
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