Saturday, February 21, 2009

ESL Email Scams

I received two emails recently and both of them are clearly scams. The first one is really obvious, but the second one is a little trickier and, honestly, I'm not sure what the scam is just yet. Plus, I'm on nurse-detail today because of 고's wisdom tooth removal and I figured I'd waste some time.

The obvious one first:

How are you doing today? I am sorry i didn't inform you about my traveling to Africa for a program called "Empowering Youth to Fight Racism, HIV/AIDS, Poverty and Lack of Education, the program is taking place in three major countries in Africa which is NIGER , South Africa and Ghana . It as been a very sad and bad moment for me, the present condition that i found myself is very hard for me to explain. I am really stranded in Ghana because I forgot my little bag in the Taxi where my money, passport, documents and other valuable things were kept on my way to the Hotel am staying, I am facing a hard time here because i have no money on me. I am now owning a hotel bill of $ 550 and they wanted me to pay the bill soon else they will have to seize my bag and hand me over to the Hotel Management, I need this help from you urgently to help me back home, I need you to help me with the hotel bill and i will also need $1050 to feed and help myself back home so please can you help me with a sum of $1600 to sort out my problems here? I need this help so much and on time because i am in a terrible and tight situation here, I don't even have money to feed myself for a day which means i had been starving so please understand how urgent i need your help.i have decided not tell my family so that they will not be worried.when I return I will tell them and they will understand.

I am sending you this e-mail from the city Library and I only have 1.30min, I will appreciate what so ever you can afford to send me for now and I promise to pay back your money as soon as i return home.You need to transfer the money through Money Gram or Western Union to the address below.Pls reply back to my alternate email address at kim.jiyeon@ymail.com. Becouse gmail service is very bad here in Africa. Hope to hear from you soon.


Name : Jiyeon Kim
Country : Ghana
City : Accra
Zip Code : 00233
West Africa

I know that you can do that and i wish you a nice day hope to get back to me as you done with payment so that i can go and get the money save. You are my hope

God Bless You
Thanks
Jiyeon Kim

So, it starts out by suggesting that we know each other somehow and that she had accidentally forgotten to tell me about her trip. She mentions "Empowering Youth to Fight Racism, HIV/AIDS, Poverty and Lack of Education" as well. Even though the name of the organization sounds pretty real (and suspiciously encompassing), I googled it to see if it was even legit and the only results were warnings about the scam and copies of the same email that I received. A scam's a scam, but I was shocked by how bad this one was.

The letter claims that "she" lost her "little bag" in the taxi, which of course happened to have everything of value in it. The problem with that is how did she pay for the cab? Did she give the driver the cash and then --somehow-- accidentally drop the bag back into the cab? It's not a wallet that can slip out. It's a bag.

Then she moves on to her hotel bill. She owes over 500 US dollars. I'm not sure what a three-month volunteer is doing staying in a hotel, but even so, the punishment for not paying is bag seizure (which doesn't have anything of value in it because she already lost that in the cab) and --my favorite part-- being "handed over to Hotel Management". I don't know a lot about the interrogation methods of Hotel Management, but I imagine it's not much worse than this:



If you're really bold, then watch this one or this one instead. (I wouldn't though. They're rough.) She goes on to ask for an additional 1,000 big ones for her flight home which is presumably Korea. Well, planes from Accara, Ghana don't fly to Seoul, so Tokyo is the closest stop and how much does that cost? Try over four grand. It's not a winner at all.

The next one, however, is much tougher to figure out because it's not asking for money. Instead, it's offering a job teaching English in the UK. I've recieved several of these emails.

Hello

Greetings of the day, me is Mr. Jerry married to Anthonia, we are both from France but have just relocated to Uk here in Belfast for three weeks now,because this place is an anglaise speaking /parlon country,i need a private teacher to come and teach me,my wife,my two kids who are Mark and Victoria how to speak and write English language, i want to build a hospital here and also reside here with my family. i will be needing you to come and work for me just for a period of oner year. will had to gave you 7500GBP on every month, a two bedroom apartment, flight tickets and other benefits.send me you pics/cover letter/resume/transcripts you can call me through +447024043001.

take care
waiting for your response
Dr Jerry.



His background story seems plausible, as does his reasoning for needing a teacher. But a few things don't pass the smell test.

Names: Jerry isn't really a French name and neither are Mark and Victoria. He also identifies himself as both "Mr." and "Dr." which is a little suspect as well. Most Phd's or MD's don't switch back and forth between the two.

Location: Why would he need/pay a teacher from Korea to move to Belfast to teach his entire family? There are tons of language instructors in England. Perhaps was looking online and stumbled upon my name on an ESL job site, and was inquiring to all the teachers he found. Maybe, but again, why not look locally?

Grammar: The grammar errors in there are not common for French to English translation. It looks like someone is intentionally trying to make mistakes.

Pay: Why would he offer such great pay PLUS housing? 7,500 GBP equals 10,747.53 USD. That's ridiculous. I would be making a ton of money, living in England and not having to pay for housing. That's way too good of a deal.

What's the catch? Well, the only thing I find that is somewhat odd is this line: "send me you pics/cover letter/resume/transcripts". Most likely, he found my email on an ESL job site, so that means he also has my pic/cover letter and resume. That just leaves my transcripts, but what can be gained from someone else's transcripts? Personal academic information? I guess he could doctor them or circumvent local laws by suckering people who are located in Korea, but I'm really not sure. My only guess is that maybe he can get originals from a lot of different schools and expand his fake transcript business.

Bottom line is that you should always take your information off of those job sites once you have secured a position. Most of these scams are clearly scams, but others look like great opportunities. Be smart and if something is too good to be true, that usually means it is.

15 comments:

Harriet said...

You could ask yur Dad about the perils of being turned over to the Hotel Management...I remember a few classic Hotel Security employees in the Barney fife mode.

Good for you for catching these scams. You are right the second is trickier.

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