The Nigerian Prince Scam — also known as a "419 Fraud" — has a long, weird, and fascinating history. But the basics of it are pretty easy to understand: a random phishing message riddled with grammatical errors, from a stranger claiming to be Nigerian Prince (or representative of one), who needs help shifting some money around through US bank accounts. If you would be so kind as to help this Prince launder his inheritance or whatever it is, he will bequeath you with a substantial portion of his wealth as a token of his gratitude. All you need to do is provide him with all the information he would need to access your bank account, and in six months, you'll be tens of millions of dollars richer!
It feels like an old joke at this point, but weirdly, it still works: in 2018, scammers managed to make nearly a million dollars off the ol' classic. There are other variations, of course, with wealthy orphans, lottery winners, et cetera. The trademark poor grammar is actually a deliberate mechanism used to help the victims self-select by weeding out false positives; basically, if you're smart enough to realize how poorly written it is, the scammers are better off not wasting their time with you. If you're gullible enough to fall for the fake bad grammar, then they know they have a sucker.
I share all of this, because of an email I received today:
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I think we can all agree that the endless plague of robo-calls has spiraled out of control. But the folks at the public data directory BeenVerified wanted to quantify exactly how much worse this onslaught has gotten. They collected data from more than 200,000 spam call reports from across the country, and crunched the numbers to see what they could find.
And while the results aren't really surprising, per se, they're certainly harrowing.
The frequency of Social Security spam calls has multiplied 23 times, from 0.4% of all spam calls in 2018, to 9.5% in 2019.
BeenVerified does acknowledge that their data does not necessarily reflect a complete picture. They actually suspect that things might be worse. "The Spam Complaint Monitor is a canary in the coal mine showing broad spam and robocall topic trends," said spokesperson Justin Lavelle. "As the data is self-reported, the total numbers of complaints related to each of these spam call topics are almost certainly higher."
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The results from the BeenVerified Spam Call Complaint Monitor mirror broader trends, as more than 76,000 Social Security scam calls were reported to the Federal Trade Commission in the 12-month period ending in March 2019, with losses totaling $19 million. Losses related to IRS scams peaked at $17 million for the 12 months ending in September 2016, the FTC reports.
Less than 3.5% of Social Security scam complaints to the FTC resulted in lost cash, but when victims take the bait, the losses are comparatively high. The median reported loss was $1,500 in 2018, more than four times higher than losses from all other frauds, the FTC reports.
I got a fun reminder last night that there a lot of greasy people out there doing a whole lot of greasy shit unto others. Last night, I was taken on a walk down memory lane: I received an email with an old password I used to use in the subject line. Here's what was inside. I've removed the password from the mix, for obvious reasons:
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_________ is yoũr passphrasęs. Lets get right to the point. No person has paid me to check about you. You do nŏt know me and you're mŏst likely wondęrİng why you're getting this e-mail?
İ installed a softwāre on thę adũlt vidęo clips (porno) web-site and gũess what, yoũ visited this site to have fun (yŏu know what i mean). While yŏu were vİęwing vidęŏ clİps, yŏur internet browsęr startęd working as a RDP that has a kęy logger which prŏvided me with āccessİbİlity to your screen ās well as cām. Jũst aftęr thāt, my software gāthered all yoũr cŏntacts from your Messenger, socİal networks, as well ās e-maİlaccount. after thāt i created ā video. 1st part shows the video yoũ were vİewing (you've got a nice tastę lmao), ānd nęxt part displays the ręcordİng ŏf your web cām, yea its yoũ.
Yŏũ actually hāvę two diffęręnt possİbilities. Shall we explŏre these types ŏf choices in āspęcts:
First optİon is tŏ neglect this messāgę. in thİs case, i ām going to sęnd your vęry own video to each one of yoũr contacts and also yoũ can easİly İmāgine ręgarding the humiliātİŏn you will definitely get.