If it says "UK," stay away

Happy Fourth of July!
It’s a wet one here in Houston, but don’t let it ruin your holiday.
Drag your grills under a patio and save me me some bar-b-que. I’m at work today!

OK.. who hasn’t gotten some variation of an e-mail like this one?

From: Madam Susan Cole.
Email: madamsusancole06@hotmail.com
msusancole001@yahoo.co.uk
Here writes Madam Susan Cole, suffering from cancerous ailment.
When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of 10Million (Ten Million Pounds Sterling) which were derived from his vast estates and investment in capital market with his security company here in Europe . Presently, this money is still with the security company. Recently, my Doctor told me that I have limited days to live due to the cancerous problems I am suffering from.
Though what bothers me most is the stroke that I have in addition to the cancer. With this hard reality that has befallen my family, and me I have decided to donate this fund to you and want you to use this gift which comes from my husbands effort to fund the upkeep of widows, widowers, orphans, destitute, the down-trodden, physically challenged children, barren-women and persons who prove to be genuinely handicapped financially.
I want you to stand as the new beneficiary to the funds. As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the security company in Europe.
I will also issue you a Letter of Authority that will empower you as the new beneficiary of this fund.
My happiness is that I lived a life worthy of emulation. Please always be prayerful all through your life. Please assure me that you will act just as I have stated herein.
It is often said that blessed is the hand that giveth. I took this decision because I do not have any child that will inherit this money and my husband relatives are bourgeois and very wealthy persons and I do not want my husband hard earned money to be misused or invested into ill perceived ventures. I do not want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly manner, hence the reason for taking this bold decision. I am not afraid of death hence I know where I am going. I know that I am going to be with the Almighty when I eventually pass on. The Almighty will fight my case and I shall hold my peace. I do not need any telephone communication in this regard due to my deteriorating health and because of the presence of my husband relatives around me.
I do not want them to know about this development.
With God all things are possible.
Hope to hear from you soon and God bless you and members of your family.
Please send all emails to my private confidential emails below:
msusancole001@yahoo.co.uk
madamsusancole06@hotmail.com
Yours sincerely
Madam Susan Cole.


Are you kidding me? Who in their right mind would fall for that load of garbage?
The answer: obviously enough people that it’s worth it for Madam Susan Cole (more likely an identity thief named Steve or Joe) to send millions of these letters. If only 1 percent of the recipients reply, sending the letter was successful to this scammer. Why? Many of these people or groups send these e-mails by using computer programs that automatically generates every possible combination of letters and possible e-mail addresses. They do this realizing many of the addresses created may not even be valid addresses. But if you reply to say “Buzz off!,” that lets the scammer know yours is a good e-mail address. That’s one more thing than they already knew. Your address will then likely be shared, maybe even sold to other groups sending these types of “offers.”

Here’s another e-mail I received this week.. another UK connection:

Hello and good day. I have a question. Me and my husband ran into a really good car for sale in the Houstonchronicle website. The car sounds really good. But the guy is in United Kingdom, claiming his in the miltary. He says that the miltary will ship the car to us on a plane? And he wants to use a third party escrow. www.pppay.com to be exact. Have you had any issues on this before? Is it safe? He even sent me the VIN number. The amount he is selling the car for is 5,300. Plese let me know, what you know about this kind of situation. I would be so grateful. Mrs. Garza

My reply:

NO! Don’t buy this car. Your inclination to be somewhat skeptical about this scenario is right on. We get e-mails all of the time from people who get caught up in this type of scam. The bottom line.. if the deal goes south.. who will be there to try and get your money back, file a police report against, etc.
Check out this warning about the scam from the Internet Crime Complaint Center:

ESCROW SERVICES FRAUD
In an effort to persuade a wary Internet auction participant, the perpetrator will propose the use of a third-party escrow service to facilitate the exchange of money and merchandise. The victim is unaware the perpetrator has actually compromised a true escrow site and, in actuality, created one that closely resembles a legitimate escrow service. The victim sends payment to the phony escrow and receives nothing in return. Or, the victim sends merchandise to the subject and waits for his/her payment through the escrow site which is never received because it is not a legitimate service.
If you believe you may have fallen victim to this type of scam and wish to report it, please file a complaint with us.
In addition, visit Escrow.com for security alerts and fraud prevention tips.

You can visit the Internet Crime Complaint Center’s website for yourself at http://www.ic3.gov/crimeschemes.aspx#item-18.

We’ve all heard the old addage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
I’ve got a new one. “If it says ‘UK,’ stay away!”

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