Greg's bite: stopping Nigerian bank fraud email
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Greg's bite: stopping Nigerian bank fraud email

By Greg Mills

I no longer get much Nigerian Bank fraud email, since I developed a policy to deal with that.  When you get an email, "You have won $50,000,000" or your unknown distant, long lost uncle died in South Africa and left you a million dollars, that is called Nigerian 419 spam and the email is really from a crook who wants to steal you blind.  

The scammers take a doctorate or official sounding banker's name for themselves. Masked behind the respectable facade is a dirt poor thief, hunched over a junk PC at a cyber cafe somewhere in a third world country. Some people don't know that if you give a thief your bank account routing numbers, that while they promise to deposit gobs of money into your bank account they actually plan to use the information to withdraw your money through the international banking system.

If email sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true, so don't be taken in. Most people just delete such junk email automatically, but there is a much better solution. Keep in mind that often several hundred thousand or a million other people got that same exact email and 99.99% just delete it. If you check the header information you will note that the email came from some URL with a free email account program, such as gmail.com or aol.com.  

These Internet service providers all have policies against using their email for spam and particularly bank fraud spam. These thieves open numerous free email or even inexpensive paid accounts to allow them to use some addresses to send and some addresses to receive email back from the suckers that respond to the spam.  The ISP (Internet Service Provider) is the information on all email that is after the @ in every email address.. 

It costs the thieves something to obtain the email lists they send the cunningly devised emails to and some effort. If they get only one response from one true sucker for every 100,000 Nigerian emails that go out, they are doing well.  

You will notice that the email address they want you to respond to is never the same one the email came from. Within a minute, the email address they send from is flooded with out-of-office replies and other automatic responses. They try to keep the second and sometimes third email address they want you to respond to open for "good responses" to come in to. Since they know the ISPs that give them email service will quickly shut down obvious spamming activities they expect the sending addresses to be closed rather quickly.  Once 1,000,000 spams go out and 20,000 responses come back in under a minute, the offending sending email address is normally closed.   

The greatest weakness for them is in the clean email accounts they reserve for good responses. If the ISPs are notified that these "clean" email addresses are being used in a Nigerian Bank fraud they will shut them down right away and all the good responses they count on will be lost when the account is abruptly closed. Only one recipient of the fraudulent spam notifying the ISP of the clean reply email address being used for a Nigerian Bank fraud is enough to screw up an entire batch of bank fraud spam.  

Here is what you can do, in a couple of minutes, when such an email comes in, that will help get them shut down and get you off the spam list. Rather than just discarding bank fraud email I forward the entire fraudulent email and all header information to the postmaster or abuse department of all the ISP found in the headers and text of the email with a new email heading: "Warning Nigerian Bank Fraud using your ISP." 

The addresses for abuse, unfortunately, are different for each ISP. Most of the time you can send the offending email to abuse@gmail.com for example and it will result in the offending email address being canceled. There is a web site that has a data base of the correct email addresses for reporting bank fraud spam. The Network abuse clearing house web site is at http://www.abuse.net/lookup.phtml .

I also copy the jerks back who sent the spam at the clean email addresses, so if they manage to collect their email before the account is canceled, they know who screwed up a whole batch of spam they sent out.  They will soon remove your email address from the spam list to keep you from getting their clean return email addresses canceled by the ISPs. I used to get Nigerian Bank fraud spam every day and now I almost never get any.  I caused some of them a lot of trouble.

If you have the time, it is a hoot to scam the scammers. Since they send the bank fraud spams to hundreds of thousands of people around the world they can't track where you got their clean return address. I use a spare email address for such fun and games stringing some of these guys along. It is really more fun than most internet games. You know you are playing mind games with some actual bunko guys.

I had a rather famous Nigerian Bank fraud artist named David Kabela engaged with me for three weeks, a while back. I convinced him that I was the son of a very wealthy woman who owned most of the stock in the Hormel Meat company, that happened to produce the wonder meat product, known ironically, as spam. I told him my mother, a devout Christian, needed a trusted Christian agent in South Africa to distribute her 10% tithe to the Lord's work in Africa. He, of course, touted his great personal relationship with Jesus and generously offered to distribute the money for her.   

After 20 or more emails back and forth working out all the fine details, I told him that my elderly mother, due to her generous political donations had a good working relationship with the diplomats at the US Embassy in Johannesburg, South Africa.  That she had sent $110,000 cash in US funds to him though a secret diplomatic pouch system called the "don't ask, don't tell" secret diplomatic pouch program.  

He was to approach the US Marines guarding the US Embassy and ask discretely if they were part of the "don't ask don't tell" program and then wink at them. With that secret password and the confirming secret wink, some of the Marines, who were aware of the secret pouch program, were instructed to grant him instant access to the US Embassy as an honored guest and get him his pouch of cash. I explained that due to the very secrecy of the program he might have to ask a number of Marines to find one who was aware the "don't ask, don't tell" diplomatic pouch program. For some reason, he never got back to me after going to the visit US Embassy to get the money.

That's Greg's bite for today.

(Greg Mills, is a Faux Artist in Kansas City. Formerly a new product R&D man for the paint sundry market, he holds 11 US patents. He's working on a solar energy startup, www.CottageIndustrySolar.com using a patent pending process of turning waste dual pane glass into thermal solar panels used to heat water. Greg writes for intellectual web sites and Mac related issues. See Greg's art web site at www.gregmills.info ; his email is gregmills@mac.com )

 
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