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Consumer Beware

Today my newest e-mail account got its first scam-spam. I present it here in full in order to help you all better familiarize yourself with this and similar scam attempts. Let's read, then dissect, shall we class? Ready your scalpels, there's a lot here.

Subject Line: TREAT AS URGENT
Date: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 12:39 PM
From: This sender is DomainKeys verified
"Ati Tijani" <ati.tijani2@yahoo.com>

To: x@yahoo.com

Body: I have a new email address!

You can now email me at: ati.tijani2@yahoo.com

- From Dr. Atiko Tijani. Good Day,Please Read and get back to me for more details.My name is Dr. Atiko Tijani, I'm the Director of Audit and Fund Reconcilation in African Development Bank Ouagadougou Burkina Faso.I have a business proposal in the tune of US$30m, (Thirty million American Dollars only) after the successful transfer of the fund, we shall share in ratio of 40% for you and 60% for me.Should you be interested, please contact me through my private email (ati_tijani76@mail.ru) so we can commence on all arrangements and I will give you more information on how we would handle this project.Below is the website of the incident involving the late Mr. Andreas Schranner for your viewing: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/x. Please treat this business proposal with utmost confidentiality and send me the following information.1) Full names 2) Private phone number 3) Current residential address 4) Occupation 5) Age and Sex: Kind Regards,Dr. Atiko Tijani.

Analysis:

Oh deary me. Where DO I begin? First off, the subject line is in bold letters and tends to grab attention due to the language used (specifically the word "URGENT" tends to command more attention than, say, "IMPORTANT" though not sounding quite as inane as "CLASSIFIED".)

Then this e-mail is from "Doctor" Atiko Tijani (a doctor of WHAT is left ominously unclear, much like those "9 out of 10 doctors recommend brand X" commercials). That in itself is appeal to authority. This is supposed to put your mind at ease that he/she/it is a doctor and is therefore trustworthy. To be a doctor you just need to SHOW UP to classes for 8 years and maintain at least a "C". And that's assuming that the sender isn't just full of crap.

Another thing to see is that he links me to a news article. Please note that I replaced the end of the HTML code with an "x" in order to make the link not work properly. This is for the safety of everyone reading this to ensure that I'm not inadvertently linking us all to something malicious. It has " BBC" in the link (British Broadcasting Channel, I believe) so it looks authentic, but in these e-mails it's best not to take chances. Also, the link and the reasoning for having it are strangely jarring and don't flow well with the story he's giving me. I really have no idea why it's at all important, but he seems to think it is. Again, appeal to authority. (I saw it on the news...)

But if this e-mail's from a doctor, why are there so many typos and improper punctuation usage? I swear, I did not edit this at all from its original form, sans making the link not work and censoring my e-mail address. Random, unnecessary capital letters, poor spacing and also inconsistent in doing so. Also worth mentioning is the doctor gave me two or three e-mails, each one being insisted upon being used. If I was dumb enough to reply to him (and I'm NOT) which e-mail would I send it to? I have no idea.

Another thing I should point out is that the allegedly good doctor misspelled his occupation. How many people do you know care about their breadwinner so little as to misspell it when he was (allegedly) in no rush. Worth noting is just how needlessly long this occupation's title IS. It sounds very impressive when in short it should read "Debt Collector". This is also to intimidate you into a sort of sense of awe about this particular figure.

Now, the scam's execution. The idea is that you're to, for some reason, aid in a transfer of a large sum of money from Africa to America. Why a middle man is at all needed is a fact also left out of the explanation. How many deals made by Microsoft do you know of that use a random person picked at random (let alone random 21-year-old guys from nowheresville, USA?) I hope you can't think of any, because I sure can't. Why not? Because it's DUMB. That's a surefire way to lose money, but the doctor has already netted in your interest and your trust (if you're a complete imbecile). This one is executed in a slightly more subtle way than most - whereas a lot of these scams go right for the "BANK ACCOUNT NUMBER PLEASE", this one instead asks for a brief correspondence (perhaps to build your confidence in the doc) all the while asking for otherwise harmless info (Name, address, telephone, etc). Problem is, that with name and phone number alone I can find out where you LIVE and from there, someone with minimalistic skills can pretty much find everything about who you are with minimal effort.

Another thing you might be wondering is why Africa? Africa is a continent filled with chaos and uncertainty and has been since the countries who had colonies and stakes there returned them to their *ahem* "rightful owners" whereupon they all went right to Hell. A particularly popular country is Nigeria, so keep eyes peeled for that tell-tale sign. Another interesting thing to note is that he claims to work in Africa yet the e-mail addresses end with .com (American, I believe) and .ru ( Russia).

But what makes this scam so appealing? Well 40% of 30 million is in the neighborhood of 12 million bucks and money for nothing is any person's dream. Why do you think the lottery is so popular? People will jump in, believing in the appeals to authority and be hooked in and robbed blind.

All-in-all, this is obviously a scam and if you take the bait you will more than likely get your bank accounts flush out if not worse. Best course of action? Delete it without a second look.

Stay tuned for the next time I get another one of these babies to shred!

Written by: Jeff


"There's a dear little plant that grows in our isle,
'Twas St Patrick himself, sure, that set it;
And the sun on his labor with pleasure did smile,
And with dew from his eye often wet it.
It thrives through the bog, through the brake, and the mireland;
And he called it the dear little shamrock of Ireland..."
~Andrew Cherry
"If you're enough lucky to be Irish, you're lucky enough!"
~Irish Saying

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