Alas, the answer to the question posed in the title is an emphatic ‘NO’.
If you’ve been using the Internet for any length of time, chances are you’ve received emails pretty similar to the example I’ve included below. And chances are you can quickly recognize such messages as scams designed to fool you into sending your money and personal information to online crooks.
And, you could be forgiven for assuming that EVERYBODY knows about these scams by now. After all ‘Nigerian’ inheritance scams much like this one have been around for decades. In fact, they predate email and the Internet by a wide margin.
And, they haven’t even changed that much in all those years! I remember getting surface letters that closely mirrored the scam message below long before I’d ever sat myself in front of a computer.
But here’s the thing. Despite what might seem like our quite reasonable assumptions, not everybody DOES know about these scams. In fact, a great many people out there DON’T know.
How do I know? Because people all around the world still fall for such scams. Every day. Month in month out. Year after year. These scams WORK!
But, make no mistake, the victims of such scams are not always dumb or stupid. And they certainly don’t deserve to be scammed. In fact, a great many victims are educated, intelligent, everyday people just like you and me. But, for a variety of reasons, they may be vulnerable. Perhaps they are a bit naïve and a little too trusting. Perhaps they are experiencing financial difficulties and the scam email seemed like an answer to their prayers. Perhaps, they are stressed, depressed or dealing with a mental illness and their guard is down. Perhaps there are simply gaps in their knowledge and prior experience that can make such scam attempts seem reasonable and believable to them.
Whatever the reason, victims do not deserve the contempt that is often levelled at them by others. They should be offered support and treated with respect and understanding.
Otherwise, the scammers keep on winning. And ordinary, decent people who have made an error of judgement are further traumatised by the derision of their peers.
So, rather than condemn victims, the very best thing you can do is make sure that your friends, family, neighbours, and work mates know how these scammers operate. This type of grassroots education can really help to stop people from becoming victims.
Just for completeness, I should quickly outline what would happen if you did believe that ‘Jean-Baptiste Chet’ had left you 17 million dollars and you went ahead and contacted his ‘barrister’ as instructed.
You would soon be told that you must send money to cover various – totally imaginary – fees before your bequest could be transferred. And, if you complied and sent money the first time, requests for even more money would likely follow.
Moreover, as the scam played out, you may have inadvertently given the criminals a large amount of your personal and financial information. When the scam has run its course, the criminals will disappear with your money. And, using the information they have gathered, they may also be able to steal your identity.
You can read more detailed information about advance fee scams in the Hoax-Slayer Knowledge Guide on the topic.
Let’s close with a cliché. Why has it become a cliché? Because it is actually advice worth heeding especially when applied to staying safe online. If it seems too good to be true it probably is!
NOTIFICATION OF BEQUEST
On behalf of the Trustees and Executor of the estate of Late Engr. Jean-Baptiste Chet ;I once again try to notify you as my earlier letter returned undelivered. I hereby attempt to reach you again by this same email address on the WILL. I wish to notify you that my Late client Late Engr. Jean-Baptiste Chet made you a beneficiary to his WILL.
He left the sum of Seventeen Million Two Hundred Thousand Dollars (US$17,200.000.00 ) to you in the codicil and last testament to his WILL.
This may sound strange and unbelievable to you, but it is real and true. Being a widely traveled man, he must have been in contact with you in the past or simply you were recommended to him by one of his numerous friends abroad who wished you good. Late Engr. Jean-Baptiste Chet until his death was a member of the Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects. He had a very good heart and loved to give out.
His great philanthropy earned him numerous awards during his lifetime. Late client Late Engr. Jean-Baptiste Chet died on the 7th day of January, 2010 at the age of 80 years, and his WILL is now ready for execution. According to him this money is to support your humanitarian activities and to help the poor and the needy in our society. Please if I reach you this time as I am hopeful, endeavor to get back to me as soon as possible to enable me conclude my job.
Endeavor to reply to myE-mail: email@example.com for prompt response to your plight.
Yours in Service,