On the rare occasion when my spam filter takes a siesta and I find an email that BEGINS…
“Dear Friend – We are wishing to notify of you that you
are listed as a beneficiary to the total sum of $18,000,000..."
My immediate response is to ask myself two (2) questions:
#1 - Why are all scammers too busy for spell check?
#2 - Do people actually fall for this?
Of course, I understand that most email scams originate overseas and there may be a language barrier to overcome, but, COME ON PEOPLE - the minimal effort it takes to do a simple Google Translation has got to be worth the investment if it means, instead of an email that reads like one giant red flag, you have something requiring more than a millisecond of scrutiny.
A hypocrite I am not. Ergo, careful to expend only nominal effort, I employed Google to finally put Question #1 to rest:
According to Google, my assumptions are dead-wrong. Instead of a "devil-may-care" attitude toward grammar, most of the spelling errors found in scam [aka "spam"] are done ON PURPOSE. Apparently, perfection [in the scam-world] is directly related to poor sales and low payoffs. The reason being, is twofold:
FIRST, "purposely misspelling words allows spam emails to slip through the cracks [of anti-spam software] without permanently obscuring the meaning of the text."
SECOND, "by sending an email that repels all but the most gullible [...] the scammer is able to invest only in the targets most likely to pay out." These emails contain grammatical errors and fabulous stories because most people find them laughable - "A less outlandish [email] that did not mention Nigeria would almost certainly gather more total responses and more viable responses, but would yield lower overall profit."
Having never failed me before and with Question #1 settled, Google effortlessly moves on to address:
Question #2: What makes someone a perfect target?
As an Elder Law attorney, I was not surprised to discover the elderly [ages 60 to 89] are the most common target - they can be vulnerable and easily confused, but as a human being, I was outraged.
If not for my elderly clients, I may not find my profession so enjoyable. No client of mine, falling in this age group, has been anything but, refreshingly polite and appreciative. And, they are welcoming - I have never been to an in-home consultation where I have not been greeted with genuine smiles and an offer of coffee. Most remarkable, however, is the profound trust that is given to me, despite having just introduced myself.
Sadly, the same traits I admire, are those that make the elderly such dependable targets:
AGE- 60 to 89 years old
SEX - Women
Lack financial knowledge
RACE - Caucasian
LIVING ARRANGEMENTS - Living Alone
HEALTH - some cognitive impairment
FINANCES - Moderate to Wealthy
Savings / Sizable Nest Eggs
Excellent Credit Score
UPBRINGING & PERSONALITY
Well-Mannered & Polite ~ difficulty saying "no."
RELUCTANCE TO REPORT FRAUD
Prone to Fear & Shame ~ concerned that relatives may think they no longer have the mental capacity to take care of their own finances.
Knowing WHO the victims are and WHY they are targets, is the first step to fighting against, Elder Financial Abuse, an issue that has become so widespread and destructive, it has been deemed: "The Crime of the 21st Century."
Stay Tuned - You do not want to miss:
PART II - THE SCAMS
PART III - THE CON-ARTIST IS NOT WHO YOU THINK HE IS