Anybody that has the ugly chore of going through the e-mail in basket will see these little gems and should recognize them for what they are worth – garbage. Yet, these scam messages seem to be increasing in number and sophistication. A few of them are very enticing.

Most of these messages come from non-USA or Canadian sources. They prey upon those internet users that for one or more reasons have not installed SPAM blockers in their PCs and are very receptive to money being waved under their noses. They are sent out by the millions around the world. Their favorite targets are the kids or the user that cannot comprehend that what they are reading is a spoof.

There should be a way of stopping or catching these spam / scam operators, but the mouse seems to always be two jumps ahead of the cat. Besides being ever-present traps where the victims are separated from sizeable sums of money, they block out legitimate marketing efforts. Thus, the victims are not only the people that bite on their offerings, but also the small businessperson that must advertise in order to gain sales and grow marketing lists.

Thus, this article offers advice on how to detect these scams but does not offer a software model that promotes an automatic detection and removal remedy for such scam activity. Offers that promote such results may be no better than the scams they attempt to block, detect, and remove. The user should get third party opinions about how effective such software has been employed.

There are two types of scams that fall into the category of “We have millions of dollars just waiting for you.” One is the Nigerian 419 Scam and its variants. The other is the Lottery Winnings Scam. These work as follows:

The Nigerian 419 started out in Lagos, but has spread to other countries, mostly Third World nations. It starts out with a legal official. They often use the term “barrister” to identify themselves. Other titles might be a bank official or consultant. Recognize the titles. If you don’t know them it is a dead giveaway, especially if the person writing the message is from an offshore country.

The scenario involves a very wealthy client, a war or a disaster of some sort, and the client having perished with his bank holding all the assets. The bank must dispose of the assets, otherwise it will confiscate them. There are no next of kin for the deceased client. The attorney or official must find somebody to stand in for the lost heir..That “somebody” is YOU, the intended victim. One other identifier is they say confidentiality must be maintained.

The perpetrators want YOU to complete a form and submit it. They will take care of everything. They spring the trap when they say an official or a bank department must claim a fee before the inheritance or assets are released to you. The fee is substantial, most typically $5000 USD. A fee to cover an inheritance of a million dollars is not much. The scam ends up with you paying the fee, the scammers acknowledging receipt of payment, and the final act of disappearance, including your money.

The Lottery Scam is similar, although there is no heir or disaster to start it rolling. Instead you have won a lottery prize from some country. The notification comes from a secretary or treasurer of some sort, advising you that you have won. An agent or attorney then appears. Without his or her help, you cannot set up your winnings in a foreign bank, nor can you move such money into the US without the IRS finding out about it. Again, a fee of $5000 USD will make sure all eyes are closed when the money moves. The only money that will move will be your $5000 into the pockets of the scam perpetrators.

What can you do? The first thing is to install spyware or malware programs in your PC. That should minimize the number of scam attacks on your system, but if they already have your IP address or e-mail addresses in their files, you will still get spam / scam into your system.

Do not open any e-mail that has an attach file from a source you do not know or trust.

Review the Originator and Subject of everything in your in-basket. If it comes from a known origin or has a Subject representing something you expect or want, flag the item. When you are done, group all the flagged items and move them into a folder marked “Flagged Items.”

Delete the remainder of items in your in basket

You will kiss the spammers and scammers goodbye.

And with that, it is time to review my own in basket. The spammers and scam artists never quit. If several of them do decide it isn’t worth it, at least I will not get tagged.