If it sounds too good to be true… Beware the scammers

This world is a great place with a lot of people who are trying to help out. Many people try to improve things for their friends, families and even complete strangers. However, there are also a few people out there trying to take advantage of you. And I want to make sure you’re not a victim of these kinds of people. So if you receive and email allegedly coming from the UN and it sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.

I have written about fraudulent job offer emails that have been going around for some time here. But since there seems to be a new wave of attempted scams I wanted to briefly touch on this topic again. So if you receive an email like the below – disregard and delete it. It is a fraudulent email and not from a UN organisation. But don’t take my word for it, read the fraud warnings on the UN site here: https://careers.un.org/lbw/home.aspx?viewtype=SCAM

Now let’s have a look at the scam email. The emails tarts as follows:

UNITED NATIONS OFFICE
FOR THE COORDINATION OF
HUMANITARIAN AFFAIR.

Our Ref: FGN/SNT/RAL
Your Ref: SNT/ATM/822

Dear Esteemed Beneficiary,

Inline with the United Nations millennium development goal to
eradicate poverty and hunger by the year 2015 i am directed to
inform you that your payment verification and confirmations is
completed, Therefore we are happy to inform you that
arrangements have been concluded to effect your payment as soon
as possible in our bid for transparency.

Already here all alarm bells should ring: From typos to contradictions in the logic of the argument to the “too good to be true” part all classic elements of a scam are present. The mail goes on as follows:

You have been granted the sum of $500,000.00 USD in the United
Nation Development Program UNDP world Aid/support promo, for your
Personal, community and education development and do note that at
least 40% (Percent) of these total fund must be use for such purpose.

The United Nations collects all the email addresses of persons that are active online among the millions that subscribed to the Internet and only five persons every Year are selected as our Beneficiaries through electronic balloting System without the winner applying.

On that note we congratulate you for being one of the beneficiaries.

This is the part where the “too good to be true” part unfolds in it’s entirety. The UN never conducts lotteries, the UN never reaches out to random people and the UN most certainly does not award half a million USD for personal development just like this. In fact, for anyone who ever worked with or for the UN and knows what kind of approval processes behind even the smallest payments for clear and justified development purposes is this section is so far from reality it makes for a good joke.

To file for your claim, you are requested to contact the events Manager/Claims Department,
send your winning Identification Numbers and the following information.

These are your identification numbers:

[…]

Yours faithfully,
XXXXXXX
Under-Secretary-General:
Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator

This is the end of the scam email and of course no scam is complete without asking for personal information and private details so this part is expected in any such email.

How to find out if an email is a scam or not:

Before engaging with a sender of an email, ask yourself:

  • Is this email too good to be true? If it seems like it is too good to be true, most often it is.
  • Did you enter into contact with the sender first? If not, why does the person contact you? And no, there is no random contacting of people – the UN’s resources are scarce, they are only used in clearly defined programmes and so they don’t reach out to random people just like that;
  • Is the sender who s/he claims to be? Google the name, research the organisation that is allegedly behind the email. Make sure you verify independently(!) that the sender is legitimate. Don’t just ask in the same email “are you who you say you are?” since any scammer would of course gladly tell you whatever you want to hear. If you don’t find anything on the name, call the switchboard of the organisation and ask if this is a legitimate email.
  • Is the cause in the email legitimate? The UN’s resources are scarce and the UN is under tight scrutiny from member states, the media and the general public. The UN will not engage in random acts that don’t fit into a predefined, coordinated and agreed programme that is designed with extensive consultation of those affected and involved in the project.

With all this, keep in mind that I’m not talking on behalf of the UN. So this post is purely my take on the situation. Again, make sure you read the UN’s fraud warning and think before you act. Also, please don’t forward scam emails to me. There is nothing I can with them and I’m not able to help. Thanks!

4 responses

  1. Mine is a little differnt here it is.
    UNITED NATIONS OFFICE
    FOR THE COORDINATION
    OF HUMANITARIAN AFFAIR.
    Our Ref: FGN/SNT/RAL

    Good Day,
    You have been awarded an ATM CARD containing
    $50,000, USD We will send you
    an International Swift ATM Card that has
    been approved in
    your favour with Card Number:
    5301236451206xxx,with valued sum of
    $50,000, USD.

    Contact REGIM BALLACK WITH THE DETAILS BELOW:
    Urgent Response E-mail [redacted]
    With your personal informations listed below
    so that he can verify your
    ATM CARD.

    1 Full Names:
    2 Your Country:
    3 Tel:
    4 Age:
    5 Address:
    6 Sex:

    Regards,
    UNITED NATIONS OFFICE.

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