Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Meet Mr. Bunko Con

Deer person whos name I dont know,

I desperately need your services (whatever they are). I have a urgent/touching/sad job wich i need you to do for us immediately because you are awesome and can do this. Also since you are such an awesome person, I will trust you with a lot of my money. Im so glad you are so awesome. Thank you for helping me with this.

Please get back to me as soon as possible. My fiancee/dying daughter/cute puppy and I are so glad that you will help me with this job.

Bless you!

Mr. Bunko Con

Sound familiar? We’ve all gotten them. Scam letters are very common and hopefully most of us are pretty aware of them at this point. There are plenty of sites online that talk about recognizing scams, including the FBI website:

Common Fraud Schemes

But this gets a little trickier when you operate a business and provide a service. For those of us with websites and an online presence, it is common to get emails from people we’ve never met. In fact, as a translator, it is common for me to do business with people that I have never met (and probably will never meet.) The very nature of translation makes it difficult to be sure if that latest email is a legitimately exciting job offer, or a too-good-to-be-true scam.

It is tempting to dismiss scams and say that only the gullible fall for them or just to think “I would never fall for that,” but scams change regularly and it is always best to be informed. Worse still, the truly honest, genuine, and caring among us seem to be some of the most likely to fall for these scams. After all, they would never think of doing this to another human being, so why should they expect another human being to do this to them?

Over the next few days I plan to post about common scams and how to recognize them, but I don’t plan to talk about the scams that are aimed at us as individuals (scams such as the famous “Nigerian Letter”), but rather scams that are aimed at us as businesses – as service providers.

Warning sign #1:
"Hi, I want to do business with you.
Who are you?

If the sender doesn’t know your name, your company’s name, or the service you provide – that’s a bad sign.

Bunko wants to make money off of you, but he doesn’t want to spend a lot of time doing it, so he will send the same email to a lot of people. If you reply, he will take your information from your reply. Until you answer, he doesn’t even know your name.

You will see this in the following language:
-Dear Sir or Madam,
-Your company
-Your services
-Your language
-I found you online

Mr. Bunko may even ask you for services that you don’t provide. In my case, he may ask me to translate something into Pashto. If I were to respond and tell Mr. Bunko that I don’t speak Pashto and therefore can’t translate into Pashto, he would brazenly respond as though what he really wanted was a translation from French into English.

Would you contact a company you knew *nothing* about and offer them your hard-earned money? No. If Mr. Con knows nothing about you, he doesn’t want to give you his money, he wants to take yours.

When Mr. Bunko Con emailed you, did he know your name?

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