419 Scams are nothing new, at-least not to techies. However there are scores of people across the planet who continue to fall for these scammers who are primarily based out of Africa.
Why do people fall for such schemes? Lack of common sense is obviously the reason. Greed is another. Take a look at this SMS message that I received on my phone the other day:
It is obviously a scam, but to the un-initiated, here’s what ticked me off:
- Spelling errors: “Congrate”, “Onging”
- Grammar errors: No space between “Mobile Draws.for claims”, Improper capitalisations. Use of Period instead of Comma in amount. Hint: Britain uses Comma to separate numbers on left of decimal point.
- Email ID: A company like HP doles out a Hotmail ID as the official ID
- Fact: HP does not run lottery/draw schemes. Even if it did, it would not send such SMSes; preferring email/printed communication instead.
- Common Sense: HP would have to be out of their mind to just throw away 400 thousand dollars on common people. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
Now where does hotmail come in my angst? The fact that maximum such emails tend to be generated using Hotmail and Hotmail has done precious little to get aggressive about it’s misuse.
While M$’s ex-chairman wants to introduce ‘Email Postage’, he has done little to put his own house in order. Try submitting an email abuse claim to Hotmail and you are likely to receive a pre-formatted terse message. In fact, since they require email headers to be sent and this message was received by SMS, I wonder if they will even accept it.
The SMSC in use may belong to Reliance GSM Service (India) and is used by SMSGUPSHUP.com
The SMSC is also show as the mobile number of ‘Peter D’Souza‘ based in Maharashtra (India). Mr. D’Souza seems to specialize in offering get-rich-quick schemes.
What makes this article most imperative is the number of people across the world who seem to have received similar SMS messages and the smaller proportion of fools who are querying the process required to claim this award.
God save those who have already contacted the scammers hoping to come into some new-money.