Scammers play the odds.
When they send out mass emails to target new victims, it’s something of a guessing game.
They don’t know who may be on the receiving end, so they don’t know who might fall for the plot.
But years of trying shows plenty of people open emails, even if they come from unknown senders. And despite warnings, people click on links or open attachments without giving thought to who may have sent it.
Whatever the fraud, enough people believe what they read and instead of deleting suspicious emails, they follow the con artists’ wishes — which takes us to our latest scam report.
“I know you cheated on your wife.”
Those words in the subject line of an email are attention-grabbing.
Indeed, some 25 percent of married people have had an affair, according to a number of published academic studies.
That gives the scammers pretty good odds.
These emails do pretty much what you’d expect.
The sender says he has come across evidence that you’ve had an affair.
“Even if you decide to come clean with your wife about your cheating, doing so won’t protect her from the humiliation she will feel when her friends and family find out the sordid details from me,” one scam email said.
The sender, though, has a heart. He says he’s willing to destroy the evidence as long as you pay ransom.
Some of the payment requests are for Bitcoin, while others ask for wire transfers, reloadable gift cards or other methods.
However you pay, the result is always the same. The scammer never had evidence of unfaithfulness — whether you had an affair or not — and he will disappear with your money.
This scam reminds us of several others in the “romance scam” category.
With Valentine’s Day upon us, we want to remind you of a few other scams involving matters of the heart.
First, there was the Ashley Madison scam.
The website — which was known as a destination site for married people who were looking to have affairs — was hacked in 2016, and the private information of more than 33 million members was stolen.
That data breach led to a new scam: Members received emails threatening to expose their involvement with the member’s spouse or boss. And then, of course, the scammers asked for money.
While the breach happened some time ago, we can imagine members have remained nervous about what could happen with their information.
Don’t be surprised to see it resurface.
Then there are the romance scams born on social-media.
For these, fraudsters set up fake social media accounts, often using photos snatched from the accounts of real people, and they strike up online conversations with strangers. If someone responds, the scammer will persist, hoping the would-be victim is lonely or naive.
The scammer, now seen as a possible love interest, then pretends to have a sudden financial crisis. Maybe they or a family member had a medical emergency and they can’t pay the bills. Maybe an old flame tricked them out of money. Whatever the excuse, they ask for your help.
And they’re sure to ask you to pay in a method that’s hard for authorities to track.
If you send the money, it will be gone forever — and so will your new “friend.”
Then there are scams that take advantage of people who are looking for a relationship that’s questionable from the start.
They start on websites that offer young, attractive people to hook them up with a wealthy patron who will be willing to give money in exchange for emotional companionship. So called “sugar daddies” or “sugar mommies.”
The sites are legit, but scammers create fake profiles and fool hopeful people into thinking they’re real. Promising money, they get the victim’s bank account information or send them fake checks.
You can read more about how it works here.
So be careful, dear readers, no matter how much you’d like to have a partner for Valentine’s Day.