How to Identify and Avoid E-mail Scams

How to Identify and Avoid E-mail Scams

We’ve all gotten them, those annoying e-mails from “doctors” or “executives” claiming to need your help to deposit some vast amount of money. In exchange for doing almost nothing, these e-mails claim you will receive a ridiculously high pay-off.

Most people recognize these e-mails as scams, but scam artists are getting better at duping unsuspecting, good-hearted people.

The sad truth is that every time a world disaster or scandal occurs, a scammer is out there devising a plan to make money from the suffering of others. Most recently, scammers, just days after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, were sending out bogus e-mails asking for donations. Never donate money to an organization you haven’t heard of.

Another favorite scam is to claim someone with your last name has died without an heir, leaving millions of dollars behind. Since you share a last name with the deceased, the scammers, who claim to be estate attorneys, apparently figure anyone with the same last name will do to inherit this fortune. All you have to do to get your millions is to pay a small fee, which goes right into the scammers pockets.

The scammers are getting smarter, and because they have been successful, they are likely to continue their quest for more and more sophisticated schemes. For that reason, consumers must keep up to date on their latest methods. One new scheme involves scammers hacking into an e-mail account, accessing your friends’ e-mail addresses, then sending out a bogus e-mail that appears to be from you frantically requesting money because you are stranded in a foreign country with no money. Several people have actually sent money to scammers thinking a close friend was in desperate need.

What do you do with these e-mails? Delete them. They are often easy to recognize, so we suggest they be deleted without even opening them.

The bottom line is that nowadays you must be suspicious of every e-mail you receive that talks about sending or receiving money. The old adage, “if it seems too good to be true it probably is” has never been more relevant.

Because many of these scam artists come from overseas, look for misspellings and grammatical errors in the text. Unless you know the sender, don’t answer and don’t fall for their claims.

You can, as long as you include this resource box with it:

Copyright (c) Brian Durham. Brian Durham is an Internet Marketer and author who writes articles on subjects including email scams and how to avoid them.You can see more of Brian’s articles at

59 thoughts on “How to Identify and Avoid E-mail Scams

  1. they say i won the u k mega millions ltery and that my email is how i won and im from u s not there and to pay 300 to get the 1 million doolars and its a refundable fee pay bthough western union

  2. Good day.

    I have received a job offer from Nokia United Kingdom, had to complete a questionnaire & was awarded the job in London.
    I am responsible for my work permit & visa the rest they provide for!
    Is this a scam?
    They have a telephone number +447024063578.
    Is this a scam?
    Please assist.

  3. recibí un mensaje en el que me dicen que me gané una lotería de los estados unidos en un sorteo electrónico, por 1.250.000 dólares, utilizan el nombre de la Western Union como presunto pagador y un señor James Borgenson me envió hasta el pasaporte para que no desconfíe…es una estafa???

  4. Kindly find out if this number is a scammer +233245066291 ..he introduced himself as a diplomat of united nations, bhagdad, iraq…pls. help me find out!!! Thanks….

  5. el muy mal parido del tal Dr. Mathwe Nellor es un estafador no contesten mail de el. eliminenlo.Dice que tiene una suma de dinero para usted y te da un numero de telefono de un banco de nigeria y que hay dinero por una indemnizacion. No contesten

  6. Im workin here in hk and i know a man from uk in skype and we get closer. I ask him to find me a man who wants me to marry and help me goin in uk and he offer his self. He ask me abt how much i have so we can start and i send him 1500us$ and he take care of the restfor tickets and etc, after 1 week the man who process my visa ask again 2550
    pounds for the BTA as transportation allowance required by d embassy and refundable. and i said i have no such amt. they said they will help and just provide 1000pounds so i send them again in western union but only 700 borrow so we need 850 more to complete. sad to say i was terminated
    in my work and i have no money to send and my parents start to think if this only scam i spend all my money. there nos are +447045716333 and +447927062872 the one who process my visa and my bf is in germany that time no way for me to call him and now i know he is in africa who call me using dis no +233542428586 and asking even only 500pounds will provide and he will take care of the rest. I just wanna know if this scam or not? pls help me, i love the man very much i trust him but i spend too much money.I wait for ur response soon…Godbless and more power…

    • Scam – yes. There’s not much I can do for you – my website here primarily exists so that people can identify scams before they get involved with them. After that it’s too late – at that point it’s time to get in touch with local or national authorities. Whatever you do – don’t send any more money because you won’t get it back.

  7. hi brian,,,i have recieved alot of these emails from alot of scammers in nigeria,,wanted to share so people can be aware of these scams,,anything that is nigeria related is a scam,,i get these alot all asking for alittle money or alot,,it doesnt matter,,,DO NOT SEND ANY MONEY people,,i dont have enough room here to pst my emails but i got a boat load of them,,,i too have sent money in past before wising up,,,now i laugh at these emails,,they try and try dont be stupid people,,anything that requires you to pay to get some rediculous amount using western union is a SCAM…period

  8. I receive an email from david cole for travel coordinator for scott dunn company and two different applications is this a scam? The company is legit I want to make sure that david cole really works for scott dunn company….

    • Scam – delete the emails and move on with the rest of your life. Hint – if you google “Scott Dunn” (in caps) along with “david cole” (again in caps) you’ll find more “Scott Dunn” scams related to this “David Cole” person. Remember – search engines are your friend.


    • Anything using rediffmail is suspect. I’ve seen too many scams come from there.

      Given what you’ve told me already I can tell you that it’s a scam. I’ve talked to women before in your situation.

      1) Don’t get attached to him because he’s not what he says he is – not a soldier, not working for the UN. He’s probably in Nigeria.
      2) Don’t send any more money because you won’t get any of it back.

  10. n there also an other one which i did research on to find out is he is for real or not n it came up to be true,that he is real n he is asking me for 100 dollars for some form,wat can u tell me about that

      • Hi Brian,

        I am selling a boat and have received two, almost identical, suspicious enquiries offering to buy at full price without even viewing the boat. Both say they are temporarily overseas in the Ivory Coast and want my name address & phone details to arrange transfer of funds. Neither asked for my bank details. If I give them the information asked for, what harm can these people potentially do with this limited information? I know this is likely to be a scam, but if there is the slightest chance that these are genuine buyers I cannot afford to dismiss them. One phone number stared as 0022540086 and the other 00225446298.
        Thanks in advance. Graham

        • Graham:

          Côte d’Ivoire makes me suspicious unfortunately… it’s yet another west African country known for scams.

          I did a Google search for one of the numbers (as you probably have already – some web search) and I found was that it was a French mobile number.

          I probably wouldn’t proceed with either of the offers.

          Best wishes -
          Brian Durham

          • Hi Brian, thanks for that. I have Googled the two complete telephone numbers and they are from the Ivory Coast. French numbers start with 0033. Both have been used before on similar advertisement queries with almost identical wording. What I cannot understand is how the scam works. They are asking how to send money to me! What damage can a person do with just my name, address & telephone number? Surely they cannot open a credit card account etc or run up debts in my name? I’m now based in France where you need to prove your identity and address even to buy a prepaid mobile/cell phone.

          • Graham:

            I didn’t make myself quite clear yesterday – my apologies. I’m not really concerned about any ‘identity theft’ issues. My primary concern is that one of the Ivorians will give you a payment that isn’t any good; it may take awhile to clear your bank and will eventually bounce removing that money from your bank account.

            Best -

  11. What do You mean about this :

    First e-mail

    [scam removed by editor]

    Second e-mail

    [scam removed by editor]

    They don’t ask for money yet.Should I try to comunicate to see what is this about.Can they abuse my personal information

  12. Hi!

    I received this email after I been looking for an investor;

    Thanks for your email. I represent the Arab development partners, a private investment business consortium. We look into encourage infrastructure development and economic renewal by having active business presence in strategic positions in secure areas of this world.

    We try to create jobs in trade in Africa and Middle East by keeping graft and stealing manageable. My investors are looking to invest into various businesses like real estate, farming, mining, trade, etc, in your country. I know you may ask why we chose to do business with you. The answer is because we found your business profile fascinating.

    Therefore what is most needed from you is your experience and expertise. This is for convenience and to break through broker chains procuring Bank Debentures! I was wondering if any of your clients still require our professional services for the procurement of Financial Banking Instrument i.e: MTN’s, BG, SBLC, CTD,Bonds.

    We have available BG/SBLC Lease Offer @ 8% from 50 World Top Prime Banks. MTN, BG/SBLC Sales Offer @ 45%+2 from 50 World Top Prime Banks. Availability of Credit Line Facility for Credit Enhancement, Project Funding and Monetization against Strong Collateral.

    Alternatively, we can provide you with any amount of funds in liquid cash after meeting with you in person to confirm your capability to manage these funds in investment and pay back the agreed return. All the funds require is no problem in lifting;
    we only need your experience and expertise in the managing of these funds in investment and trust that you can pay your returns.

    Since my investors are mainly interested in USA, Canada, China, some parts of Europe, Australia and New Zealand at the moment, they are looking at investing a total of US$85,000,000.00 for a start into various sustainable projects ranging from stocks to mining through real estates, farming, shipping etc.

    I would appreciate more details about your project, a business plan will help better. I look forward to hearing back from you soonest.

    Thank you

    Can you please tell me if this is a scam?

    I have other email from the same person


    • Hello -

      Firstly – it probably is a scam so don’t get too excited.

      If they ask you for money – for fees or some other funds before you get your funds from them – then it’s most likely a scam.

      If they send you a form of payment (a check) and ask for money back – then the check is probably forged. In that case I would not deposit it in your bank.

      For more information you can look at the Wikipedia article on advance-fee scams.

      Best wishes -
      Brian Durham

  13. I got the same letter after sending a business plan summary to someone who advertised on LinkedIn. Was you signed by “Ali Mounsoon”?
    He said he represented Osman Ahmed with the ADP of UAE, but he turned out to be from Nigeria (he called me). But he refused to put me in contact with Ahmed, who has a LinkedIn account but restricts it so no one can send him a message without knowing his email address first.
    He wanted me to come to meet Ahmed in South Africa to finalize the deal. I’m afraid it could be a kidnapping and ransom thing.

  14. i receive an e mail in spam, from the diplomat agent they want me to pay $850 for the documents like non inspection certificate, for the said package ..i have no money for that…

  15. Thank you for your information on this SCAM. I received similar emails from “Scott Dunn” – representative “Tori Deely” – with the same Travel Coordinator opportunity. They disregard my asking for a contact number yet want me to email an employment application (that, of course, contains quite personal information). No good. Thanks, Michelle

  16. How can people be so stupid?
    I am sorry to sound so patronising, but I can’t help thinking this sometimes. I have got so sick of seeing my inbox clogged with these stupid scam e-mails that I have taken to scam baiting for the past few years. Recently, I was dealing with some people who wanted me to send money to Nigeria by Western Union. I was messing them about and wasting their time when, lo and behold, I got an e-mail purporting to come from the US ambassador to Nigeria who was offering to step in and help with my problem! He then sent another message stating that, by chance, he was travelling to my country and would be only too happy to deliver my package containing millions of US dollars in cash to my very doorstep. Of course, I would first have to send the up-front fee by Western Union to Nigeria! The standard of English used by this so called US diplomat was so appalling as to be unbelievable. The whole thing is a joke – I am not even a US citizen, and diplomats certainly do not spend their time delivering packages to people as a favour. Yet, the fact that these scammers are using such tactics suggests that some people out there are falling for it. Forget the US diplomat side of the scam, how can anybody seriously believe that there is a package containing millions of US dollars in cash just waiting to be sent to them, for no apparent reason? How can people be so dumb? Will the world please wake up and stop sending these shitbags their hard earned money. Then the scammers will go out of business.

  17. My name is sidiomar Moggio
    I’m from Brazil
    sao paulo state
    I am glad to send you this email to notify you Regarding your ATM …. sidiomar Moggio on ATTENTION: Final Notice of Your Package with reg … · SA335493RDK
    numeiro the celular01496882112
    City marilia sp
    This is not only is vendade or some bricadeira
    you guys the site sends an email. or sr.sidiomar_1987 @
    or sidiomar_
    SOME documents for this herd
    Prof. Rolim endereçoRua Wenceslau Aires N05
    Teacher barrioRua Wenceslau Aires Rolim
    CeP17511-850 -…………

  18. This person found me on facebook and said he like me a lot and after several email of course he was in love with me. He said he’s an engineer for Hotchtief Solutition AG, the company exist, he works at a ship for 4 months and he buys crude oil for investment. After a month he said the ship was in dangerous from a pirate ship and they had to change route and end at Lubuan Island and he said that he had all his money with him becouse he was going to do his business in Osaka but was afraid that the pirate ship will take everythin from everybody on the ship including his money and he wanted to send me his money so that I can send it direct to Osaka and he was gonna used a Garis Pantai currier and after doing some research on the net I told him that I did not wanted to get involved with any money at all, he keeps insisting but I don’t think I’ll do it.

  19. Estimada Aida Ochoa, efectivamente es una estafa, en lo personal recibo de 10 a 15 correos con historias increíbles como las que comentan aqui, la mera verdad pensaba que solo en México se realizaban este tipo de estafas a traves de los telefonos celulares pero desde que llegamos a los E. U. A. , aqui la situación en el aspecto de los estafadores del ciberespacio es mas agudo. En la Craigslist estos rateros ponen fotos de casas con direccion real, ofreciendo rentas muy bajas $ 500.00 que incluyen agua, luz, cable, internet y telefono, diciendo que son personas que trabajan en missiones en Africa y que se tienen que ausentar por 3 años y que lo que les interesa es que les cuides su casa, y que por el hecho de ya estar en Africa tienes que mandarles via Money Gram los $500.00 mås $500.00 de depósito y que por FEDEX vas a recibir las llaves, nosotros fuimos a ver la casa y si allí estaba pero con sus auténticos dueños.

  20. I received an email from elottery. There’s a contact number +442036083986 and email contact address. They have not asked for money. Is this real?

  21. I’ve been a victim of this scam as well but thank you so much Brian, I read your article and it’s a great help thanks for the advises now I know the person who called me was a scammer from Nigeria and was using this numbers +60162008675 and +447011140356, and he’s freaking me out because he doesn’t have an American accent,hence he said he was in US military and a General he told me to pick up the package for him from a diplomat from UK and said currently the diplomat was here in dubai and he was asking my passport copy because I might run away and he was also asking me how much salary I earned from my company… anyway thank you so much for the advises and warnings More power to you Brian…


  22. I met a”doctor”online,and I doublechecked his photos,he seemed a real person who works for the UN in Syria…and his contract was finished but they didn1t let him out from the country,they wanted to extend it.So I needed to confirm he wanted to come to me,and I had to fill a form,but today I got this e-mail from the”office”what shocked me..
    From the transit department of the UNITED NATIONS,this is to inform you that your request concerning the process of Leave has been Authorized to start with immediate effect according to UNITED NATIONS leave request policy and decree on leave pass.
    Prior to your transit processing on behalf of our client,I will e-mail details on how to purchase his flight reservation ticket as soon i contact all other necessary departments.Flight details will be forwarded to you 24hours after your purchase .

    Note:You are advised to follow all instructions you were given and
    respond fast,Please state where you want to partner to fly to and be sure to pick him up.Let me know the best time to reach you on phone.
    Kind Regards,
    Sgt Allen Rick,

    Transit Grant Department of the United Nations

    LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This communication (including any attachments) contains proprietary information some or all of which may be legally privileged. Unless you are the intended recipient (or authorized to receive for the intended recipient), you must not print, retain, use, copy, distribute or disclose to anyone this message or any information contained in it.If you receive this e-mail in error, please notify the author immediately by replying to this e-mail and then delete it from your system. E-mail transmission cannot be guaranteed to be secure or error-free as information could be intercepted, corrupted, lost, destroyed, arrive late or incomplete, or contain viruses. The sender therefore does not accept liability for any errors or omissions in the contents of this message, which arise as a result of e-mail transmission. Please think of the environment before you print this message and any attachments

    Maybe they wanted me to send the price of the flight ticket on Western Union…..

      • Hi,Brian!
        I don`t know for sure how they wanted me to send the price of the flight ticket.But the scammer used the name ,the pictures and all of the details of Dr.Joseph Wildman a famous orthopedic surgery,who works for the UN for 20 years….And he doesn`t know anything about the fact he has been scammed.And I have got via e-mail the link of the website of the UN with printed on it the e-mail address what was used for the official correspondance of filling the forms…They are really professional scammers….and they are still”working”…..Where can I report it to let the UN and Mr.Wildman know about this crime?
        Anyway,thanks for the reply…….

  23. TO MR BRIAN:

    > TEL: +44 1 865 522 295
    > FAX: +44 7 024 099 184
    > Email:


      • HOPTU136!
        THE POSTCODE IS North London,but you need to know all of the landlines in London starts with +4420……from abroad.
        On the other hand you could find the address in Google map,just put the postcode there.
        All of the mobile numbers in the UK start with +447… the given “FAX NUMBER” is a mobile number,where you would never be able to send a fax.

          • No,Brian!+447…..numbers are mobile numbers in the UK,and not landline where FAX could be sent.If somebody gives you this +447…..number ,it is a UK mobile number.Companies,offices….etc.never use mobile numbers for any contact and they never give a mobile number to anyone as a contact number in all over of the UK.
            Scammers use top up UK mobile SIM cards all over the world,just to make you sure they are from the UK originally…..After a few messages then they ask you to send them a top up vaucher with some credit as they credit is running out and they wont be able to txt to you anymore.They are so sweet,what could we do…we buy a voucher and send them by txt the 16 digit numbers of the top up voucher….
            My advice is to everyone:Never do it,please,they are definitely scammers!!!!!
            Do you know,you can check all of the details of the e-mails(location,country…)using the IP address?

  24. ihave been getting a lot of E-mails saying i have won 3.5 million in a cocacola compatition, Money gram payment, Bank phb department office, Development bank, cotonou, republic of benin, Mr john oknene & tel number they gave +229-68083531, E-mai

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