Explain this scam to me

So while I’m on the SD, I get an SMS:

“I am contacting you regarding a deceased clients (sic) of ours that bears the same surname as yours. Contact me via email for more info: mrtimriggs@aol.com

I’m not a moron; I know how this is an obvious scam and the attempt is to get me to part with some money. And despite the aol.com address, it was sent from a number in South Africa.

What I’m curious about, is what is the fraudsters next step is. How would they get me, in an alternate universe where I’m a naive idiot, to part with my money? “estate duty?”

Getting you to respond at all is the first step in a pigeon drop. It needn’t involve anything specific to the digital age.

They’ll tell you need to send them money to cover the transfer of the money you have coming to you (in my case it was 90 bucks). Then bye bye money. No, I didn’t send them any money.:slight_smile:

Send me $50 and I’ll send you a kit detailing how to avoid these kinds of scams going forward.

I suspected it was a variation on the 419 (advance fee fraud) scam associated with Nigerian “princes” but its a variation I have never come across before. Google tells me I’m not alone but doesn’t tell how this one works. I’m familiar with how the 419 scams work, I’m just interested in what excuse they would use to get their victim to part with their money - and to keep parting with it.

Basically, I’m trying hard to think of something that sounds halfway plausible to a layman with a bit of education and coming up empty.

Was it the deceased relative scam or something similar, like a Nigerian Prince needing to get cash out quick?

You’re still thinking in terms of recent digitally-assisted scams. Whatever exact details might apply, I’d bet good money that the scam would be recognizable to any con man of the last two hundred years. They will set you up to believe you have some sort of incredible windfall and find a way to get you to pay “advance expenses” or “provincial legal fees” or some damned thing.

I’d bet there isn’t even a fixed script - you reply and they cold-read you into a ripoff, whether it takes an hour or a month.

“We’ll send you a bank check for $10,000 out of the estate. You deposit it and send us $1,000 back for our expenses.” Then surprise, the bank check bounces.

My last name is fairly common in the UK (i’m in the US). I’ve had several about dead relatives, some that said they were with the FBI and had seized a package with my address on it. Some from an African Gov. I was getting a lot of them for a while but not so much anymore. I actually replied to a few and told them to just take the fee out of the money they claim I had coming and send me the balance…I was told it doesn’t work that way. LOL

Not in the slightest. But this:

makes perfect sense to me. I express doubt over a particular “cost” they’ll find another sum or “cost” that would be more acceptable.

(SMS are more occassional, butI get a steady stream of this shit to my gmail account together with various phishing attempts. All pretty similar but this was new.)

Not quite the same, but in recent weeks I’ve received a few text messages stating that I had to immediately contact a bank or credit card issuer about a problem with my account. The giveaway was that I didn’t actually have an account with any of the supposed issuers.

While I can’t say for sure, the OP’s example sounds like a pretty standard opener for a 419 scam, just via text. I guess the E-mail pickings are getting slim.

The scam that came THIS CLOSE —>||<— to hitting the right mark:

I got one of those too, a few years ago. AND it so happened, I did (and still do) have a credit card with the named bank. AND it so happened, I did have a problem with my account just the month before (which was in the process of being cleaned up). AND it furthermore so happened that as soon as that was fixed, another (minor) problem came up, and they DID (briefly) suspend my account (just as that scammy e-mail had threatened).

Notwithstanding all that, the scammy e-mail I got was obviously scammy. It didn’t have my name or any part of any account number (like the last 4 digits) anywhere on it.

It’s a 419 scam - the front end of these takes one of several forms:
[li]We found a suitcase full of money bearing your name, and…[/li][li]I am a wealthy, dying widow in need of your assistance/stewardship of my charity bequest…[/li][li]I am a banker who discovered an unclaimed fortune and need your assistance in embezzling it[/li][li]I am a rich businessman/prince/whatever and need assistance moving my funds[/li][li](and in this case) I am a lawyer looking to embezzle an estate by presenting you as the heir[/li][/ul]

In all of these cases, you’ll next be asked to enter into a supposedly profitable arrangement (appealing to your greed), to be kept secret (to prevent your friends exposing the scam), and they’ll start pumping you for ‘advance fees’ for as long as you are gullible enough to keep paying.

It was warm in Los Angeles. We were working the day watch in Bunco. Captain Benson is the boss. Bum Ba Dum Dum

At this point, it may perhaps be of some interest to link to this thread from several years ago, in which choie watches, and blogs, as her gullible neighbor keeps paying and keeps paying and keeps paying until, apparently, he has lost everything.

Several years ago I got a letter from someone saying he had the same first and last name as me, and was contacting other people with our names around the country for reasons I don’t recall exactly, but which had something to do with alleged common interests and government conspiracies of some sort.

It was obvious he was a major fruit loop, so I discarded the letter and return envelope and thankfully never heard another word from him.

On the other hand, I have an intriguing offer from something called “The Red-Headed League” that I will be following up, and will let you know what ensues.



Somewhere there’s a Nigerian Prince wondering why Americans are so mean and won’t help him out.

If you like The Straight Dope, you’ll just love the Red-Headed League. They were all about fighting ignorance, you know, by hand-copying encyclopedias. You’ll learn so much!