How to spot an email phishing scam

I thought crooks had evolved past the stereotypical “send us your bank info and we’ll send you $1,000,000!” scam.  An email today proves otherwise.  So I thought I’d turn this into a teaching moment on how to recognize and avoid the typical email phishing scam.

Phishing is the name given to a particular scam whereby a criminal, usually by email, attempts to get you to hand over personal information about yourself, your bank accounts, etc.

Here’s the email I got today and we’ll disect it together, shall we?  Mouse over the highlighted areas to see what’s up.


Good day, we saw your name (in the Central Computer among the list of unpaid contractors, inherited funds as next of kin and lotto beneficiaries that originated from Africa/Europe and around the Globe). Your name appeared among the beneficiaries who his fund has been approved already. You are requested to get back to us for more direction and instruction on how to receive your funds; you will be directed to a new Bank where your fund is presently. However, we received an email from one Mr.Donnell Clayton who told us that he is your next of kin and that you died in a car accident last Month. He has also submitted his account for us to transfer the funds to him. Mr.Donnell Clayton’s account co-ordinate is as stated below:

Bank: Bank of America

1121 N 205th St, Shoreline, Wa 98133

Bank routing number: 400038755

Bank account number: 7714000889

Account Holders name: Donnell Clayton

We want to hear from you before we can make the transfer, and also to confirm if his claim of you being dead is true or not. I, on behalf of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) apologizes for the failure to pay your funds in due time which according to records in the system is long overdue since, reply through the system operator, Mr. Brenda H. Douglas email:

Tel: (+229-98-07-59-37)

Yours Sincerely,

Mr. Brenda H. Douglas

On Behalf Of Mr. Rodrigo de Rato Figaredo

Managing Director, IMF

So there you have it.  Let’s go over basics once again just so you have it:

  1. Watch for obviously misspelled words, poor grammar, nonsensical sentences and other basic writing errors.
  2. Beware of overly general or vague references.
  3. Don’t let a false sense of urgency defeat your logic and reason.
  4. Don’t send anyone anything that is private, including your phone number, address, account numbers, and social security number.
  5. Never ever click on any link in a suspicious email.

So don’t get hooked by a scam and make sure nobody else does either!


Posted on August 5, 2009, in How To and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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