General Anatomy of a Scam Email

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Caped Crusader
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General Anatomy of a Scam Email


Unread post by Caped Crusader » Tue Dec 19, 2017 6:00 pm

General Anatomy of a Scam Email

Not sure if an inviting email you've just received is a scam? Read on...
If you are still not sure after reading this article, you can it submit it to

Next time you get an email from some strange person or company offering you a fantastic prize or the opportunity to acquire huge sums of money, be very careful!

Check the following out, and read later below why the email is almost certainly a scam email if it meets ANY of the following criteria:

1. Is the email from a public free webmail service such as Yahoo, Hotmail, Walla, Sify, etc?

2. Is the email addressed to someone other than you, or addressed to nobody?

3. Is the Reply-To address different from the Sender (From) address?

4. Does the email contain a reference to another email address for you to reply to?

5. Does the email contain the details of another person or agent or "barrister" for you to contact?

Here are the reasons why the email is fraudulent.

1. Email comes from a free webmail service

No real business proposal or lottery winning announcement would be sent via a free webmail service. If the email came from a real company the address would be or something like that. No bank would use a free email address, like Yahoo or Hotmail. No lawyer would use such a free address either; this includes addresses at and Please read: Official Looking Free Email Addresses Nor would a lottery company or any person offering you "employment" or offering to help you claim inheritances, consignments or whatever. It is just NOT believable.

Some scammers now use a variation to attempt to fool you. For example, you might get an email from . However, the REAL email address is from a free public Yahoo email account, Always check the LAST sender's address details from any suspicious email - that will be the true email service used by the scammers. You might have to retrieve the header to do this. Please read: How to Read Headers in Common Email Programs

2. Email is actually not addressed to you

If an email is not actually addressed to you or is addressed to "undisclosed-recipients", but still offers you a huge prize or an offer to acquire huge amounts of money, then how can this offer be true? The same e-mail has been sent to hundreds or thousands of people at the same time. Just ignore such emails immediately.

3. Reply-To address is different from the Sender's address

Most people would have a common address which they use for everything. Why would they need 2 email addresses? I have enough trouble keeping track of my single email address! If you do look carefully, you will see almost certainly that the Reply-To address is a free webmail service. Again, please do not deal with people that send their mails from a free webmail service. If they cannot even afford their own email service, then what makes you think they have any money or prizes to give you?

Actually, another reason for the use of another email address for replies is because most webmail services can detect spam coming out from an email account, and such accounts get closed rather quickly. These email accounts are known as "Spammer" accounts and the email addresses they direct you to are called the "Catcher" accounts. After you have responded to a Catcher account, it is very likely that you will be forwarded to another email address known as the "Handler" account. Some Catcher accounts are also Handlers, but generally that is the scenario. You may be forwarded also to a "Collector" account in the final stages of a scam where someone will then attempt to convince you to pay them some "fees". NEVER pay these fees. You will not see your money ever again.

4. Email contains a reference to another email address for replies

As for 3 above, why would a legitimate business or person need to do this? Again, the address for the reply would almost certainly be a free webmail service. Users of free webmail services just do not go around offering money or prizes, mainly because they themselves cannot even afford a proper email service. Just ignore such emails. They are blatant frauds.

5. Email contains reference to another person to contact

As for 3 and 4 above, just ignore such emails. Why would a "barrister" or "security company" or ANYONE be ready to receive an email from you, if you have NEVER dealt with them before? It just does not make sense!

How do you check if someone is using a free webmail service?

It is rather simple. From the end part of the Sender's address field, just cut and paste everything AFTER the '@' character. So if you see something like, just use your web browser to access the website You will soon see if it is a public webmail service. These free webmail services are easy to use and cost nothing, so the users will never be genuine persons or companies. The scammers can also create user names like Do not be fooled by impressive user names - always check the email service where the email came from. If it is a free webmail service, just ignore the email. If you cannot even find the website then it is certainly a fraudulent email. How can you believe an email from a website that does not even allow itself to be seen?

Another very simple method is to look for taglines. If you see taglines advertising something else, like Yahoo! or MSN, then it is a free webmail service that the scammer is using. Examples of taglines are:
Have you outgrown your e-mail account? Upgrade to MSN Hotmail Plus!

Find your next car at Yahoo! Canada Autos

Yahoo! FareChase - Search multiple travel sites in one click.

Try the New Netscape Mail Today!
Virtually Spam-Free | More Storage | Import Your Contact List

Express yourself instantly with MSN Messenger! Download today it's FREE!
Additional Note

Scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and have published their own fake websites from which they send their emails. Please read: Identifying Obvious Scammers and Their Websites Or, increasingly, they will have links to real websites for you to refer to, such as the BBC news service or websites of legitimate banks or businesses. However, invariably, the Reply-To addresses would be a free webmail address, so ignore the links and just check for the scammer's reply addresses and you will see that they are scam emails.

Finally, don't be fooled by strangers offering you the opportunity to acquire vast amounts of money! Why would ANY stranger offer this to you? They have families, they have friends, and these friends must know friends or relatives in other countries. So if the scammer claims to need someone who is not in their country, then it cannot possibly be true, especially if they are people who are claiming to deal with such sums of money. Also, always ask: (i) HOW and (ii) WHY did these people get in touch with you? The answers are (i) they got your name from some email list and (ii) they want to steal your money. They have never known you, and they never want to know you or meet you or help you. They just want to steal your money. Remember that.

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