The Confidence Game

Despite their technological trappings, the millions of email scams that circulate on the Internet every year are really just old fashioned confidence tricks. They don’t depend upon cell phones and wifi connections for their success; they depend upon human psychology. The Internet is just the medium. The same games have been played for decades by fax, telephone, and regular old correspondence.

It should come as no surprise, then, to find that scammers keep up with the times, and craft their messages to appeal to people in the present day and age. While rich orphans and dying widows and corrupt officials are evergreen, some other issues are more trendy and more likely to be in the mind of the average reader who follows the daily news.

The Point of Law blog has just noted that some 419 messages are beginning to appear that are constructed around supposed environmental damage reparation claims. “Chevron/Texaco has given you a donation of $980,000.00 USD as a compensation for environmental hazards caused by our Product,” their example reads.

There will certainly be more to follow. Somewhere in a run down Internet cafe, even now, a scammer is perusing the latest headlines, looking for a new hook that will let him capture another unsuspecting victim — maybe even you.