Monday 17 October 2022

Targeted scam

Targeted scam

I've just received a targeted scam.

It started with an email with the subject "Catch up". The from-address was someone I knew a very long time ago, but hadn't actually met in person. I'm calling him xxx xxx:

sorry to bother, do you order on amazo n?

I didn't understand that, so I answered:

I don't understand your question.

The clarification came back:

Thanks for responding, do you shop on Amazon ?

So I replied "Yes". At this point, I was wondering what this was about - perhaps he wanted some advice on using Amazon? But why was he asking me?

And then came the main email.

Glad! I've been trying to purchase a $150 Amazon E-Gift card by email, but it says they are having issues charging my card. I contacted my bank, and they told me it would take a couple of days to get it sorted. I intend to buy it for my Friend of mine who is diagnosed with stage 4 mesothelioma cancer, It's her birthday today. Can you purchase it from your end for me, I am just trying to put a smile on her face in this trying times. I'll send you a check regarding the refund later. Here is her email ( )and have it ordered From Me Please and the message space, write Happy birthday Dear Rita, Stay strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Eph. 6:10, 

Let me know once you order it and send me the confirmation once it’s done.

Well. That clarified the situation. I'm supposed to spend $150 and send it to "Rita" (I'm guessing that this is another email address used by the scammer). And then he'll send me a check (not a cheque, so this must be coming from the USA). Later, he says.

Oh, really? My guess is, the check won't arrive, and I'm $150 down. I thought that the bible quote was a nice touch.

So I've sent four emails back. The first was to the genuine email address of the person that the scammer was pretending to be, to warn him about what was happening. The second was to the scammer:

I have a better idea. I have my own merchant account, so I can probably bill your card where Amazon couldn't. So, if you give me your card number, expiry date and CVC number, I can bill your card for $150, and then send the $150 gift card using a different credit card to Rita, along with your inspiring message.

If we move quickly, we might be able to get this done on her birthday.

And on catching up - I've often felt a bit guilty about the joke I told you when we last met, do you remember? I'm sure you do, because you were quite angry at the time. I hope that you can find it in your heart to forgive me for that.

Of course, the joke part was total fiction, because we've never actually met. I just thought it might help the plot along a bit.

The third was to "Rita" (I've redacted it slightly).

I would like to wish you a happy birthday.

You might wonder who I am; I know xxx xxx, who reached out to me to help him to send you a birthday present.

Hopefully, the present is now on the way.

I will be praying for your fight against your medical condition.

John 15:7 If you remain in Me and My Words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

And the fourth email was to and (again, redacted for posting here).

I received the following email from I don't think
that the sender really was "xxx xxx", which is the name he claimed.
I have not sent any money.

Perhaps you might investigate the authenticity of the email addresses and

And I enclosed the email that made the request for $150.

My guess is that the scammer has gotten hold of the contact list for xxx xxx and is sending emails to everyone on that list, asking for this $150. I hope that closing the "Rita" email address will put a spoke in his wheel.

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