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File:Sandy Hook NJ beach fisherman's pole.jpg

photo from Wikimedia commons


Over the years my husband and I have received a lot of phishing emails, including:

A stash of gold the military found in Saddam Hussein’s palace, which they needed to hide in willing Americans’ bank accounts so they could get it back to the USA. All we needed to do to help was to provide our bank account number so they could transfer the money to us. I’m Not sure how they were transferring that gold into cash, but hey, we were gonna profit.

  • Oddles of cash left to us by a rich guy in Britain, whom we spoke to kindly or blessed with some good deed. We’ve never met a rich British guy. Heck, I don’t think we’ve met a British guy, ever.


  • A dead, long-lost relative who named us in his will. We ain’t got any of those!
  • Threats that our email accounts would be shut down if we didn’t provide specific information because the accounts were too full, they’d noticed illegal activity on them, or they had been breached. The account rules clearly say they will never contact us via email.
  • Banks in Africa that have discovered monies owed to us. Considering we’ve never been out of the country, we can’t figure out how an African bank would owe us anything. We’ve never even found any of that real “lost money” the counties occasionally give away.
  • Pleas from a friend who was stranded in a foreign county and needed me to send her money. This one also has a grandchild angle. You think it might be true because the email comes from your friend or grandchild.
  • Paypal and banks we don’t even have accounts with have emailed us about activity on our accounts, asking for information to verify the accounts. Think, “Oh my gosh, who’s stolen my identity and is opening accounts?” kind of scam here.
  • Emails from allegedly beautiful Russian women looking for an American man to make him the love of their life, and men who want to find a woman to marry. Who needs dating sites when you can get these fantastic offers from non-verified, non-vetted matchmakers?
  • I’ve even got a recorded phone call from alleged IRS officer Heather Gray, who informed me I owed taxes and had to immediately call the number being left or face prosecution and possible arrest. That one threw me until I realized they called my cell, and I’d never given the IRS that number.

The other day, we received the granddaddy of all phishing emails, entitled, “YOUR ATM CARD COMPENSATION PAYMENT!”, allegedly from MR. JAMES B. COMEY, FBI, anti-terrorist and Monitory Crime Division, who was nominated by President Barack Obama. His “tenure represent peace, equity and justice and rule of law shall prevail…” (And yes, his tenure represent peace is what the email said.)

According to the email, we have “been transacting with some imposters and fraudsters who have been impersonating the likes of…” and a LONG list of names follows, including someone named “Ben of FedEx.”

Wow! That’s news to us, because we don’t recognize any of the names on their list. Besides, I’m pretty sure I still remember with whom I’ve been transacting. I haven’t lost all my marbles, yet. And I’d surely remember Ben of FedEx, especially if I’d mailed anything recently. He sounds rather sheiky, like Lawrence of Arabia.

The email goes on to say (and I paraphrase) that they have been investigating these fraudsters, who have been claiming to be the FBI (hmm. I wonder if they think FedEx is a government department and Ben is the department head), and they know people have lost large sums of money to them.

By now, I’m wonder why Ben of FedEx claimed to be FBI. I know a FedEx guy flashing an FBI badge at me would be memorable! But since I’d do my FedExing at Staples, it’s highly unlikely I’d be waited on by a badge flashing fed.

They also instruct us to stop communication with the fraudsters, deal only with them, and they will “hence direct us (who are beneficiaries) to the rightful claim centers in Nigeria, where we can claim a payment ofwait for it … TEN AND A HALF MILLION DOLLARS, “via a custom pin based ATM card with a $15,000 a day maximum withdrawal limit which is powered by Visa Card and can be used anywhere in the world where you see a Visa Card Logo on the Automatic Teller Machine (ATM).”

That must be some fancy schmancy ATM card. To get your $10,500,000 would take 700 days of $15,000 withdrawals, if my math is right. Anyone who’s ever tried to draw more than the daily $200 limit should know this won’t work. Too many attempts to overdraw and the machine eats your card. I know, because it happened to me. You’re left with no cash and no card. This wouldn’t be any different, except you’ll have lost the fee you sent to the hucksters to get the ATM card and probably your identity.

They further guarantee 100% receipt of the payment “because we have perfected everything in regards to the release of your $10.5 Million USD to be 100% risk free and free from any hitches as it’s our duty to protect you.”

Hitches? Really? I’m sure Mr. Comey could have found a more eloquent way to guarantee my 10.5 million. As for protection … I highly doubt that.

All we need to do to get our ATM card is “contact the Advocate assigned to be in charge of the delivery of your ATM Card from ATM Center via email for the requirement to proceed and procure your Approval of Payment Warrant and Endorsement of your Funds Release Order on your behalf which will cost you $380 taken care of by the Federal Government so all you will ever need to pay is $380.00USD only.”

I love this part, because the government is going to “take care” of my $380 cost, yet I still have to pay that $380. And they neglect to tell me how the government is going to get that cash to me so I can give it to them.

All I have to do is give them my full name, full address, country, city (Sheesh, wouldn’t that be part of my full address?), age, cell phone, occupation, and sex. When they get that info, they’ll tell us how to make the payment of $380.00USD to get our ATM card delivered to our “designated home address without any further delay, extra fee or any authority raising eyebrow.” And on top of that, they will give us a money back guarantee if we don’t get our card within 48 hours of wiring them the money.

Forget the authority raising eyebrows. If your eyebrows aren’t raising by now, I’ve got some swamp land in Florida I’d like to sell you, and a nice warm beachside vacation house in Antarctica.

Take a hint. It might be a phishing expedition if:

  • It comes from an address you haven’t subscribed to or have in your address book.
  • It’s in broken English.
  • It’s too good to be true.
  • They offer you something for nothing.
  • They ask for any information about you, no matter how small.
  • They ask you to send them any money of any amount.
  • They threaten you with litigation or closing your account.

If you wonder if the email might hold a grain of truth, and some can sound convincing, check for the scam on the internet. Most scams are mentioned there. If it appears to be from your credit company, bank, or other legitimate company, call the number you know is a direct line to the company and ask about the email. Never, never, never click on links in the email or give any information about yourself.

Don’t take the bait and get hooked on some phishing pole dangled in front of you on your email, phone, or other social media site. If it sounds fishy, it probably is phishy.

What’s the best, or maybe we should say, worst phishing scam you’ve ever received?