Modus Operandi

With advance fee scams being the most common type of scam you are likely to come across, at least on the internet, we felt it was time to look at how they operate from the scammer’s side of the pond.

Contrary to popular opinion, a lot of the advance fee scammers in countries such as Nigeria, Spain, Holland, etc, are not as stupid as you may think.

In fact many of them form organised operations with their own hierarchy.

At the lower levels, Lads will harvest email addresses – either at random via bought lists or by trawling guestbooks on the internet.

Search Google for ‘guestbook + mugu + guyman’ if you want to see the sort of places where they have been. (If the words mugu and guyman mean nothing to you right now then check back soon..)

At the next level low level scammers use bulk mailing programs to send ‘opportunities’ to all the email addresses they have.

These ‘opportunities’ range from fairly standard phishing emails to the classic ‘hidden funds you can help us with’ types of solicitation.

Should you be foolish enough to engage the scammers at this level then they will realise that you may be a potential target for them.

Chances are you will get moved up a level.

You may notice this happen when the quality of English in the scammer’s communication suddenly improves or their email address suddenly changes!

These more skilled scammers near the top end of the chain will then try to employ every confidence trick they know in order to part you with your money.

They will attempt to get personal details and, more likely, a telephone number as phone conversations are far more effective for putting you under pressure.

Finally, they will try to coerce or persuade you into sending them funds, often through a service such as WU (Western Union) which allows anonymous withdrawals.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

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