Too Smart To Fall for Scams? Think Again

fall for scams

Don’t get Hooked!

We’ve all received that email about the Nigerian Prince that needs to get money out of his country and is willing to give you a cut if you help him out, right?

Every time I see one of these emails I ask myself, “Why are they wasting their time?  Does anybody ever fall for these scams?”  The answer is yes, a lot of people fall for scams.

In 2013, victims lost $12.7 Billion to these scams, which are also called advanced fee fraud.  Wait, let’s rewind because I don’t think you read that right.  In 2013 alone – one year – these scam artists got away with Twelve point Seven Billion Dollars – yes that was a B for Billion.  That is more money than most large corporations make in a year.

Who Are These Victims?

I always thought that the people who fall for these scams are perhaps uneducated, low income, desperate families.  But apparently I was just being a judgmental jerk because most of the people who fall for scams are highly educated, professional folks.

That’s right.  White-collar professionals are the majority of the victims.  Doctors are especially susceptible to scams that encourage them to do good.  Maybe it is because they have this innate feeling of having to help someone in need.

Studies also suggest that some people think they are just too smart to fall for scams and want to investigate the legitimacy of them.  Most of these “too smart to fail” often fall victim to people that are experts at playing with our heads.  On the other hand, the so called “poorly educated” people don’t trust anybody, including their own judgement, and tend to walk away faster.

Victims and Family Trauma

A study done by the Dutch IT fraud agency, Ultrascan, also found a strong correlation between victims of advance fee fraud and a family trauma.  Their research showed that white-collar professionals with a recent or life-changing family trauma, which seem to have impaired their judgment, are most likely to fall prey to scams.

Out of the 362 cases of people who lost more than £150,000, the study found that 85% of them had suffered a family trauma.

Nigerian Prince is Not Alone

The Nigerian scam has been so successful that it has sparked an incredible amount of copy cats to follow suit.  Not too long ago, I saw the one about the U.S. soldier who was stationed in Iraq and had millions of dollars that he needed to get out of Iraq fast.  You’ve probably also heard about the lawyer whose client with your last name left an inheritance but nobody to claim it but you.

Recently I received this little gem.

Dear Sir/Madam,

Peace of the lord be with you.

After going through your profile, i decided to contact you for assistance and distribution of my inheritance.

My name is Kim Kurrel ,a dying woman who have decided to donate what i have to you/ church. I am 48 years old and i was diagnosed for cancer for about 9 years ago, immediately after the death of my husband who lived all his life in Australia, who has left me everything he worked for.

I have been touched by God to donate from what i have inherited from my late husband for the good work of God, rather than allow my relatives to use my husband hard-earned funds ungodly. Please pray that the good Lord forgive me my sins.

I will be going in for an operation couple of hours from now, and  I have decided to WILL/donate the sum of $5,500,000 to you for the good work of the lord, and to help the motherless and less privilege and for the assistance of the widows.

Now i cannot take any telephone calls right now because my relatives are around me. I have adjusted my WILL and my lawyer is aware i have changed my will you and he will arrange the transfer of the funds from my account to you.

Contact my lawyer with this specified email contact:
Name: Barrister Bernard de Vries

Inform him that i have WILLED ($5,500,000.00) to you and i have notified him that i am WILLING that amount to you for a specific and good work. I know i do not know you but i have been directed to do this by my instinct.

NB: I will appreciate your utmost confidentiality in this matter until the task is accomplished, as I do not want anything that will jeopardize my last wish. In addition, I will be contacting with you by email, as I do not want my relation or anybody to know because they are always around me.

Kim Kurrel (Mrs.)
My Lawyer Contact Email Address:

I’m obviously not going to get in touch with Mrs. Kurrel’s lawyer, but $5.5 Million sounds pretty good.

We’re Not As Smart As We Think

I think, wait, I know I’m the smartest person in the world – other people just happened to invent things before I had the chance to get to it, but I know I could’ve come up with those ideas if I wanted to. However, I’m not going to try to outsmart these scam artists because I’m smart enough to know that I will lose.  The best course of action to take when we see one of these emails is to just hit delete and walk away.

Also, if you had a recent death in your family, stay away from any type of investments.  You might not realize it but your judgment is probably impaired by the trauma of your loss and you’ll probably end up making a bad decision.

How To Avoid Becoming A Victim

If you receive an email you’re not sure about, you can protect yourself by following a few steps.

1.  Check the email for errors – These emails are full of typos and errors that are done intentionally to let you think they are not as sophisticated as you and could be outsmarted by you.

2.  Search for portions of text – You could easily copy and paste a sentence or two into Google search and see if it comes up as a scam.  Scammers generally use the same text and send them to millions of people.  If you could find it on Google, it is a scam.

3.  Check – You can also check the Fraud & Scam section of Snopes to see if this has been reported.  And while you’re there, you can read about other types of scams so you can be prepared.

4.  Just walk away – If you’re not sure, just walk away.  Don’t take the risk.  If it smells like a scam and walks like a scam, it is a scam.

[Photo credit]

What kind of ridiculous scam emails have you received? Have you or anyone you know ever fallen for scams?


  1. Lauren says:

    I hate these emails. They usually go straight to my spam folder anyway, but sometimes I like to read them just for the heck of it. They’re usually rife with spelling and grammatical errors!
    Lauren recently posted…$2k in 2 Months Side Hustle Challenge: CompletedMy Profile

  2. Kipp says:

    5.5 mil, you could retire now! Then you can do God’s work from a beach! Better get ahold of that lawyer!
    Kipp recently posted…Blog UpdateMy Profile

  3. When I was a reporter we would get calls from people who were scammed that wanted to warn other people. I was always surprised because it was average joe’s and not grandma and grandpas. Biggest issue was online ads for cars. People found newer cars that were half the price it should have been. Well if it is online they need to hurry and jump on it. All the seller needed was $300 to ship the car out to them. Story always ended the same…no car. If it is too good to be true…it is.
    Lance @ Healthy Wealthy Income recently posted…Bonus Time! How to Grow Your Extra Money or Waste It AwayMy Profile

  4. Wow, that’s a little crazy so many people fall for it! I agree with your first tip – spelling and grammatical errors usually give scams away. I delete them, especially if they have sketchy sounding titles. Unfortunately, I feel like elderly people are also easy targets. People have taken to calling my grandma and telling her she won money, but they end up being scams. No matter how many times I tell her to hang up, she listens to them, and gets to the brink of being persuaded. It drives me nuts.
    Erin @ Journey to Saving recently posted…The Versatile Blogger AwardMy Profile

  5. I was always surprised when I worked for a large bank how many people fell for scam emails. One check on the source of the email would tell you that it wasn’t from the bank; however, many people didn’t know this. I am skeptical of just about everything, especially things that are too good to be true.
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…Not Like The OthersMy Profile

  6. Once upon a time I would have thought the same – those who fell for these scams were likely low-income and/or desperate for money. However, since becoming a financial advisor and having clients tell me far too often about this great investment someone told me about, I realize that people from all walks of life want to believe in a really good deal. It is interesting how many have recently suffered a family trauma that I didn’t know. I suppose their emotional state makes them easy prey, unfortunately. And I’m sorry you’re not miraculously 5.5M richer today, Aldo. 🙂
    Shannon @ The Heavy Purse recently posted…Book Review: Train Your Way to Financial FitnessMy Profile

    • Aldo Rancier says:

      That’s the thing, Shannon, I don’t come across people/victims ever so I was just assuming a lack of education was to blame. I feel a bit ashamed now. And I’m also sorry I’m not a Millionaire today… I cried a little 🙂

  7. I had received lots of scam emails and at first glance I already know that it’s a scam. Just a common sense, who would give you a million $$$ even if you don’t know each other?
    Clarisse @ Make Money Your Way recently posted…Kindle Cash Flow, make money writing ebooksMy Profile

  8. When someone sent me an email before, stating that she has a serious disease and she’s a millionaire. At first I felt pity for her, but when I read the part that she is going to leave me with million dollars, I just said, oh really? LOL!
    Teffany @ PF Pro recently posted…How to Give In to Lifestyle Inflation the Right WayMy Profile

  9. Kalen says:

    12.7 billion, that’s crazy! I usually do an internet search or search Snopes, like you said, if I am unsure. But I don’t deal with random strangers online in that way either.
    Kalen recently posted…How to Get a Mortgage When You’re Self-EmployedMy Profile

  10. The root of the problem is that most people want to _believe_ they are special. Of course God blessed them with free money, they deserve it! There’s also a touch of mystery and intrigue that excited people who are utterly bored with their every day life. It’s really sad.
    Mr. Frugalwoods recently posted…Weekly Woot & Grumble: 12 Random Frugalwoods FactsMy Profile

  11. At first I couldn’t believe it would be such a high figure. Then I thought back to a phishing Paypal email I recently received which almost, ALMOST, got me. Okay, so not quite the Nigerian prince or the inheritance scams, but I wonder if phishing emails were included in that figure quoted?

  12. Troy S. says:

    Nice words here. Yes, I used to get these all the time but not so much anymore. I wonder why that is?
    Yes, I also agree Snopes is a good source of what is BS and what is not. Also good advice that you give to take a several sentence portion and copy/paste it into Google and see what comes up.
    Troy S. recently posted…#883 Do mermaids exist? I believe they do. I have ‘proof’.My Profile