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May 16, 2009

This e-mail scam gets points for trying a little harder than usual

Received this morning:
Bank of East Asia Ltd.
Bank of East Asia Building,
137 Market Street, Singapore 048943

Good Day,

A customer of ours who may relate to you (perhaps) in Singapore died three years ago in Tsunami tragedy in Indonesia leaving behind an estate/capital (US$14.2M with interest) in a bank here where I work, till date nobody has come forward or put application for the claim. Please log on to this websites for more information about the Tsunami tragedy.


During the bank private search recently for the late gentle man relatives your name and email contact was among the findings that matches the same surname as the deceased (name WITHELD for security reason) who died intestate with no Will or next of kin. To maintain the level of security required I have intentionally left out the final details.

I urge you to come forward since I can provide you with the details needed for you to claim the estate/capital so that I can be gratify by you, in this way $4,260,000.00 for you and $9,940,000.00 for me and my colleagues that will do all the crucial part in the bank to have the claim release to you promptly.

To affirm your willingness and cooperation,please do so by replying me at my private email (seahchaio1@hotmail.com) with your FULL NAME, DATE OF BIRTH,TELEPHONE NUMBER, FAX NUMBER, PRIVATE EMAIL ADDRESS, BANKING DETAILS AND POSTAL ADDRESS.

I do expect your prompt response.

Thank you,
Mr.Seah Chai.
The author of this scam has done a few things to improve the perceived credibility of his or her offer (I'll assume hereafter the author is a male). First, by posing as a Singapore national, his fractured English is much more excusable than it would be if he was posing as a native English speaker.

Second, and more significantly, he refers to an event that we actually know about -- the December 2004 tsunami. He even provides links to legitimate news articles about the tsunami, hoping that this appeal to authority will overcome our reticence, and hoping that we won't notice that this documentation is completely immaterial to his business proposal. This rhetorical sleight-of-hand works in other settings, so why not here?

Third, he realizes that the Hotmail contact address needs to be explained, and attempts to do so: "Look, I'm suggesting that we split this money, and it wouldn't do for my employer to know that we're doing this, so please contact me at my private e-mail address." Unfortunately, the author's credibility is undermined by the presence of two other addresses in the message header. The Reply-to address (seahchaio3@hotmail.com) is a slight variation on the address in the message, but the From address references domain centrum.cz, suggesting that the message originated in the Czech Republic.

But maybe not. The detailed mail header shows all of the "hops" the message made on the way to my mailbox. At one point it passed through mail.centera.com.au (which doesn't show up in any Whois listing) and lvbw.net (an ISP in Branson, Missouri, USA). The ordering of the entries suggests that the message actually originated in Branson.

Thanks for playing, whoever you are. Keep at it, and you may create a masterpiece in time.

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