Monday 31 January 2011

31.01. Letter from Iraq

I got an email late last night that I thought I would share with you, as a follow up on my post from last Friday regarding scams. The email couldn’t have come at a better time, since I promised to write more about scams and hoaxes. This email is a new twist on the Nigerian scam, but has better grammar (less spelling errors!) and is more contemporary I suppose...well, you can see for yourself, I am copying the whole lot here below:

- - - - -

From Herman Hansley
Camp MXP-512 Third Infantry Division
Abul Uruj, Baghdad, Iraq.

I am Herman R Hansley, a native of Iraq.  I am a Military Contractor with the America troop currently serving in the third infantry division Unit in Iraq.

I am currently on duty break. My partner Darren D. Braswell, 36, of Riverdale, Ga., died Jan. 7th near TalAfar, Iraq, when the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter in which he was a Passenger crashed. Braswell worked For the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, before his death We secretly moved some abandoned cash in a mansion belonging to the  former president, Saddam Hussein and the total cash is US$20,200,000.00 Twenty Million two hundred thousand Dollars.

As I write this letter to you, these boxes are in Security Company as I secretly moved it out of Baghdad to safe place.

Sir I seek your consent to help me move this money to your country location.

You do not have to be afraid of anything as no one else knows about this and everything is safe. I would be pleased and grateful to you if you could assist me and my late partner  Darren D. Braswel in receiving this boxes for us on your behalf as I will be heading back soon to camp in Iraq to join my colleagues. Of course, I shall compensate you with an attractive percent of the total funds for your role/efforts. We have limited time now as you know that our evacuation agreement is been negotiated by the USA and IRAQI government, kindly get back to me immediately.

Moving the funds out of the security company is not going to be much of a problem as arrangements are being made towards that. All I want from you is your trust,

Please get back to me with your full name and Contact phone number
Preferable without delay and let’s negotiate terms.
Your response will determine our subsequent correspondence.
You can read more on this website for more information and explanations:   

Yours in Service.
Herman R Hansley

- - - - -

Now, what do you think about that?! Isn’t it incredible that some people are silly enough to believe such a story?? Hmmm...well, the sad truth is that there are plenty of people who are more than willing to part with their full contact details for a story like this – and similar ones, in the hope that it will bring them wealth. If no one went for these scams, they would fizzle out; there wouldn’t be any point in keeping sending them round the globe in forever new versions. Oh, by the way, about the link referred to in the last bit, where you could get more information, I removed that. The link was probably to a phishing web-site where you would get a Trojan virus when visiting. I thought I would save you from that experience! :-)

So how can we know whether an email we get is a scam or true? Ehem...common sense!! If what you are reading sounds too good to be true, it most likely is too good to be true! Just think of it this way, why would a perfect stranger write to you and offer you money, just out of the blue? Or why would you be told that you have won money in a lottery that you haven’t bought a ticket for? And in order to get your money, you have to PAY to receive them? Ooohh... stay well clear of emails like these. There are so may scams circling the globe today, it would be impossible to mention even a fraction, my only advice is to...yes, use common sense, and if you are in doubt, Google it, as most scams are already indexed at Google so you will easily find them there and then you can see that it indeed was a scam, no stranger would ever contact you and make you rich...unfortunately.

There is another form of scam which is potentially less damaging, but could be really annoying, and for some people can be quite upsetting and scary - and that is hoaxes. I am sure you have seen plenty of them, emails that start with: "send this email to everyone in your address book! If you receive an email called so and so, or an email with an attachment called so and so, don’t open it, it will destroy your computer and wipe your whole harddrive clean!" Got any of them? I have seen many, many over the 12 years I have been on the Internet, and I have been sent quite a few from people who has wanted to ask me if this was something to worry about or not, and by others who in their well-meaning manner thought that they would warn me against the next Armageddon. As a rule of thumb; if an email starts with “Send this to everyone in your address book”, and then goes on to warn you about something that might happen to your computer, you can safely assume that it is just a hoax; usually written by a teenager who is laughing his head off whilst the email is being passed on to increasingly worried PC owners who of course want to warn their friends and family about the danger. And because this email is being sent you from someone you know, you trust that they know what they are talking about, just as they trusted the one they got the email from. But here lies the whole problem; no-one is questioning the email content, and as long as these emails are being passed on, the hoax is successfully continuing. That is the sole point of a hoax, to see for how long an email can be passed on. When you pass on a hoax to your friends, you are going the hoaxer’s errand, potentially upsetting people who might know little about computers and who might go around worrying about how they will know if their computer is infected with this virus that the email warns about – not knowing it isn’t true of course! My advice is simple; don’t pass on emails warning about viruses. For every single email that might warn about a legitimate virus there will probably be a thousand hoaxes. It really isn’t worth warning people, the chances that you and your family and friends should be infected with the same virus is very, very slim, besides – you should have antivirus protection and anti spyware protection on your computer and make sure it is regularly updated. That way you protect your friends from getting any virus sent from you, and you protect your own computer from getting any nastiness from outside, either through the Internet or sent you via email.

Because... it is true that you can receive a virus or a Trojan horse via email attachments, not from the actual email, but by opening an attached file or by clicking on a link written in the email, like the one I removed from the Iraq letter. However, if you are wondering whether a file sent you is safe or not, do the following: make your email program window a bit smaller so that you can see your desktop whilst having your email program open. Find the email with the attachment you wonder about, click on the email so you get a preview if you have preview turned on, if not turn it on in settings. The next thing you are going to do require some concentration: Click ONCE on the attached file you wonder about, only ONCE, just to mark it. If you double click, you will open it and if it does contain a virus you will then have to hope that your antivirus software can handle the threat. So, again, click ONCE on the file to mark it, hold down as you click and drag the file out of the email program and drop the file down on an available space on your desktop. That’s why you needed to make your email program window a bit smaller, in order to see your desktop. Minimise your email program, right click on the attachment file you are wondering about and on the menu that comes up you will get a choice of SCAN WITH....and here it will be whatever software you have installed as antivirus. I use AVG, which is free, but you might have Norton or McAfee or Kaspersky for example. Whatever antivirus program you have, use it to scan the file. If your program says it is infected, DELETE the file straight away and empty your bin, then delete the email and empty your email bin too. If your program says the file is clean, you can then go on and open it, providing your antivirus program is regularly updated, which means several times a week. It’s no good having an antivirus program which came with your computer perhaps 3-4 years ago, and maybe stopped working after 6 months...when the free trial ended. That’s worse than having no anti virus; it gives you a false security! Those people who sit and write these nasty little programs churn out new viruses every day of the year, and it does take a good anti virus program with an automatic update function to keep up. But you will never be ahead, always one step behind, unfortunately. So, be suspicious, and especially if you get an email with an attachment from someone you don’t know. If you do know the sender you could just drop them a line and say; did you just send me this email with an attachment called so and so? Just wondering if it is safe to open? No one will be offended if you do that, if they do, I would at least delete them from the Christmas card list :-)

So, back to hoaxes...nuisance or more sinister? I have helped a lot of people with computer trouble over the years, and email hoaxes are a recurring theme people are worried about. I really, really loathe hoaxes; they can create so much frustration! But I can’t free myself from thinking that everyone has a responsibility for checking validity of the email content before forwarding emails to all the addressees in ones computer address book. And checking validity couldn’t be easier; Google is here to help, it’s just a matter of asking the right way! Usually you can put in the name of the email or the attachment, and you will get lots of hits. I put the Iraqi letter in Google, I wrote “Herman R Hansley Urgent News From Iraq”, you can try it yourself, you will most definitely get just as many hits as I got, telling you that this is just yet another 419 scam :-)

I realise that this is becoming a very long post, without any graphics again....just like last Friday. But I did have 6 pictures yesterday, so I hope perhaps that can make up for the missing graphics in today’s post :-) Today’s topic is something I can talk about for, don’t worry, I won’t! I am rounding up now, but I might get back to it later, as there is so much more to this than what I can cover in such a short space. Drop me a line if you wonder about something, and use Google! That’s what it’s there for :-) Take care, see you soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.