A client recently came to us asking about a potential business deal that he was working on, and wanted to make sure it was a good deal. Shortly, after the conversation began it became immediately clear to me that our client was a victim of a scam. Fortunately, he came to us before any serious damage was done by this email scam. This article describes a common method that is used to entice people into falling for this fraud.
The type of scam that was used is known as an advance-fee scam, and is a form of fraud and one of the most common types of “confidence tricks”. The scam typically involves promising the victim a significant share of a large sum of money, in return for a small up-front payment, which the fraudster requires in order to obtain the large sum. If a victim makes the payment, the fraudster either invents a series of further fees for the victim or simply disappears. Although, these are often not as easily spotted as some would think.
Almost all of these scams are perpetrated by using emails to converse, and they generally do not speak by phone until days or weeks into the scam to further gain the confidence of the victim. Now a days, it is extremely easy for someone to gain personal details of the owner of an email address. This is how they tailor a narrative directly for the victim. They often use the victim’s profession as a reason for why they are reaching out to them. For example, these scam artists commonly target Real Estate agents saying they or their client is wanting to buy a property worth many millions of dollars, but they need the victim’s help. This would obviously be very enticing to a Real Estate Agent because of the potential for a large pay out.
The next step, would be to explain that due to some reason they are unable to effectuate the sale or purchase unless they have a relatively small amount of money when compared to the potential big payout. This is generally when they tug at the heart strings of the victim, and state that due to illness or infirmity the owner is unable to venture to the United States. This gives validity to why they are unable to act on their own behalf. The client who approached us recently with this issue was under the impression they were speaking to the lawyer of a West African monarch who was sick, but interested in purchasing real estate in Florida.
Finally, as a way to trust you they ask you to send an amount of money to them so they know you are “serious”. The amount is usually $1000-$2000 they are asking for, and tens of millions they are going to send you in response. Most people are aware they are in a scam at this point, but when the communication between the victim and scammer go on for weeks or months it is often less obvious.
At the end of the day, if something ever seems like “too great of a deal” or “too good to be true” there is a high change it is. If you ever have any concerns of whether you are being coerced into a scam call an attorney before you ever send any money or give any personal details. If you have any questions or need any help call 954-603-7603. We are here to help!