Sage advice from readers on 'phishers'

In last week's column, I wrote about an apparent scam that began with an e-mail from a soldier in Iraq wanting to talk about the situation over there. I replied, interested in the perspective of a soldier on the ground.

Then I received a message stating that he and other troops had discovered the loot of Sadaam's sons and needed help getting it safely back to the United States, where it would be distributed to the families of soldiers serving in Iraq.

Since then, we've been exchanging e-mails as I've been following it to its logical conclusion - which will probably be me having to send them money or my bank account number to help them get the loot back to the United States.

But that hasn't happened yet. Before they do that, the "pfishers" apparently send several other scripted e-mails to make it seem real and to avoid being too blunt.

Here's the most detailed e-mail I've received from them:

"I really appreciate you have for us here. We really appreciate it. Below is the process, status and the requirement needed to get this done.

"Status of the money: The money in question is not in any bank or any financial institution. The money is in the custody of an agency and I will reveal its location to you in due course. The money is kept in two sealed containers which is coded with security numbers. (I will send you the unlock codes to the containers when they are in your custody).

"Process: Before the agency can release the containers to you, we will need to go through a legal process which is called the change of name process. The information on the papers backing the containers is under a non-existing information, so its imperative that we had the name changed from the non-existing name to your name. The agency will be in charge of the change of name process.

"Requirements: All I need from you is your full name, email, tel/fax (very important). I will forward the information to the agency, they will contact you and you will take over from there.

"Final Stage: The moment the change on the papers is effected, you will instruct the agency to ship the containers to any secured location of your choice. Once that is done, I will give you the unlock codes to the containers and you will take a certain amount as compersation and you will disburse the rest to the families in question. At that stage I will forward you the contact information of the families and how to go about disbursing the funds. This project is 97% secured, safe, not in anyway endagering your life or business."

I sent them the information they requested, and eagerly await a call.

I've also had several great e-mails from people following that column with information you should know. One, from J.S. Davis, urges people to report these types of e-mails.

"By doing so, you give them a chance to investigate the scammers and hopefully shut down some of the illicit Web sites these creeps operate."

There's been several successful prosecutions because of those reports. One way to report them is to contact the legitimate business that's mentioned in the e-mail. You'll often find help on the legitimate Web sites of those companies.

For example, a scam e-mail came this week that said it was from Bank of America, so I went to the real Bank of America Web site and found that they encourage people to forward phoney e-mails to Another place to report the crime can be found at the Web site

Another e-mail was from Tom Jacobs, who recommended visiting the Web site There you'll read about the adventures of one man who made a game of responding to these scam e-mails.

"Over the years, Brad Christensen has been deluged with every type of 'URGENT' offer imaginable from Nigerian scam artists. Finally, he decided to fight back by conning the con men. With humor and imagination as his weapons, Christensen preyed on the scammers' abundant supply of greed and ignorance, taking our 419 friends for quite a ride, and always at their own expense."

It's funny stuff.


This week, Roderick "Red" Watson celebrated his 101st birthday at Mountain Springs Assisted Living in Carson City. That's something that deserves a collective "happy birthday" from Carson City, since there are only about 50,000 people in the United States over the age of 100.

He was born in 1906, and spent several years as a professional cowboy and a professional banjo player.

• Barry Ginter is editor of the Appeal. Contact him at 881-1221 or


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