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Sophisticated ‘Identity Theft Settlement’ Advance Fee Scam Email Hitting Inboxes

by Brett M. Christensen

As advance fee scams go, this one is pretty sophisticated. It is professionally presented and, unusually for such scam emails,  it boasts excellent spelling and grammar.

Billed as an Identity Theft Settlement notification, the email claims that you have previously been a victim of internet fraud or identity theft and you are eligible for a substantial compensation payment as a result. At first take, the email appears to be an official document from a Swiss district court.

It instructs you to request a verification form and return it to the clerk’s office. Supposedly, you will then be “connected with your court-appointed legal representative”  who will help you claim your compensation fund.

Despite this patina of legitimacy, however, the email is still just a fraudulent attempt to trick you into sending your money and personal details to online crooks.

If you fall for the ruse and contact the “clerk’s office” as instructed, you will be told that you must send money to cover various “processing fees” or other imaginary expenses before the compensation money can be transferred to you. You will be told that for legal reasons these fees have to be paid in advance and cannot be deducted from the compensation fund itself.

If you do send money, you will likely receive further payment requests. The demand for money will continue until you have no more money to send or at last realize you are being conned.

After they have extracted as much money as they can from you, the criminals will simply go silent. They will no longer respond to your emails or phone calls. In other words, they will pocket all of the money you sent them and disappear. You will never get any of this money back. Nor, of course, will you ever get the – entirely imaginary –  compensation payment.

Moreover, via the fake verification form you submitted, and subsequent requests for your personal and financial information, the scammers may be able to steal your identity as well.
Advance fee scams have been around for decades and predate the Internet. Nevertheless, they still claim new victims every day.

Read More About Advance Fee Scams

 

An example of the scam email:

Subject: My colleagues and I have tried to contact you several times
Notification ID: CA62718
Notification Date: 11.13.2019
Notification Subject: Identity Theft Settlement
Notification Type: Settlement Fund Entry {Pre-Approval No. 1314}

We regret to inform you that you have been a victim of internet fraud and/or identity theft. See following case details:
Case Number: 1009-2171-9293-33SN on infamous internet fraudsters, Kevin Amuche, 32 and Henrik Bialek, 40, was tried and closed at the District Court of Basel-Stadt (Strafgericht des Kantons Basel-Stadt) as of last year after numerous rejected extradition appeals. They were apprehended at EuroAirport, Basel while fleeing Switzerland federal authorities in an unrelated fraud case. The case was closed based upon the following settlement terms; I. Court-ordered restitution – select offshore bank accounts recovered from the defendants shall be converted into settlement funds to be remitted to eligible affected victims, II. To be paid in full before end of sentence date.

The aforementioned defendants and their group of co-offenders used hundreds of aliases to mask their original identities over the years, which is why you may not be familiar with the real names of the defendants. If you are receiving a notification but do not recollect a scam incident, you were certainly a victim of identity theft which generally occurs without your consent. Records suggest that you have been a victim because your contact details and personal information were found on several computer devices belonging to the defendants, alongside corresponding expense, service and property receipts acquired using your credentials. Following court orders, this makes you eligible for compensation in the amount of £521,911.00 for reimbursements of false acquisitions, compensation for potential impact on your credit, and any additional verifiable claims you may make will be considered.

During investigation, authorities revealed that the pair operated on an international scale victimizing thousands of individuals and companies from several countries with the bulk of victims residing in the United Kingdom, North America and Australia. They hid a majority of their acquisitions in offshore Swiss bank accounts and properties. Based on that revelation, the Switzerland government ordered all court proceedings be held within Switzerland where the defendants were apprehended to maintain unitary judgment and integrity in international relations. Due to the diverse locations of the victims, all victims were represented by a local court-appointed public representative.

To submit an entry into the settlement fund, request verification form and return to the clerk’s office by email or fax. You will immediately be connected with your court-appointed legal representative who will give you further guidance through the short process. Their services are entirely free of charge until you have received your settlement in full, after which you will be charged on contingency.

If you have any questions or need further assistance do not hesitate to contact the clerk’s office directly at: deputy.clerk@swissmail.com

My colleagues and I have tried to contact you several times through the court e-notification system, but received no response. Hope you receive this notification and confirm receipt in order to stop further attempts. Contact via email will get you the quickest response.

Note: If you already received and/or responded to a notification, or feel you have received this notification in error, kindly disregard and safely discard this message.

Best Regards,
Annette Hadley-Peters | Deputy Administrative Clerk
Strafgericht des Kantons Basel-Stadt (District Court)
Schützenmattstrasse 20, 4009 Basel, Switzerland.

This email (including all attachments) is intended solely for the named recipient. It may be subject to legal or other professional privilege. If you receive this email and it is not intended for you, delete it from your system and discard any copies. Emails are subject to copyright. They should not be reproduced, adapted or communicated without the written consent of the copyright owner.

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Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer