War and Tragedy in Syria Inspires Scammers

November 10, 2015

Scammers always seem to take advantage of current events and the tragic circumstances of others. The Syrian refugee crisis is just the latest disaster to get the scam treatment.

How the Scam Works:

You get an email from someone claiming to be in Syria. He or she is contacting you to get help transferring money out of the country. “I am looking for honest person to help us sell our gold,” reads one version. “So we can leave Syria because of war here.”

If you reply, the scammer will offer you a percentage of the funds he/she is looking to transfer abroad. Don’t take the bait. Getting the “money” out of Syria doesn’t prove to be easy. The scammer will encounter plenty of “setbacks” that you will need to pay, such as bribes, taxes etc. Even if you pay all these demands, the money will never materialize. There are no funds, and it’s all a con.

This isn’t the first time these types of scams have used a war torn regions to lend credibility to their con. In other versions, scammers pretend to be from Afghanistan or Iraq. The scam is even sometimes referred to as the “419 Scam” after a section of the criminal code in Nigeria, because scammers use to pose as Nigerian princes and others trying to get funds out of that country.

Tips to Spot a 419 Scam:

No matter the story, these scams fool victims with the promise of a lot of money for little effort.

Use the “too good to be true” rule. If an “opportunity” just falls in your lap (or inbox) and appears too good to be true, there’s probably a catch.

Don’t share banking information. Do not reply to emails asking for personal banking or credit card information.

Be wary of individuals claiming to be overseas. In many different types of scams, con artists claim to be living abroad to avoid in person contact. Consider this a red flag.

Be suspicious of transactions that involve additional fees. Scammers will often tempt victims with a great offer (lottery winnings, job offer) and request additional fees to further the transaction.

Hit delete. Don’t reply, click any links or download attachments in suspicious emails.

For More Information

Check out the FBI’s information on common fraud schemes to learn more about this type of scam and how to spot it.

To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper (bbb.org/scam). To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker (bbb.org/scamtracker)