Frequently Asked Questions - Home PC Users

I received a strange email. What's the scam?

Here are some common themes:

"You have inherited a load of money”, or some other windfall is on its way such as a lottery win or tax refund. This is a confidence trick; in order to release your winnings you will be asked to pay a fee – sometimes to bribe a judge in a third world country; sometimes for an identity check or some other vaguely plausible reason. It's called an "advance free fraud". Needless to say, once you've paid the fee the conmen will disappear."Your account has been compromised. Please log in to verify your credentials." This means someone wishes you to log in to a fake web site so they can steal your password. When you click on the link, you’ll see something that looks like your bank’s login page, but isn’t. Sometimes clicking on the link simply downloads malware.

"Job opportunity – earn £££ working from home". This is obviously going to be something criminal. One common "job" is to take delivery of mail order items purchased using stolen credit card details and forward them to an agent overseas,  but with some plausible explanation to explain the packages arriving at your home. After a few weeks the police will catch up the scam; the first you know about it is a knock on the door but the real fraudsters are in some other part of the world.

"I want to be your friend." This is basically con artists looking for someone gullible to hand over money after some heart-rending tale of woe. Fake charity appeals are very common.

On-line pharmacy, car leasing, insurance, loans, reproduction watches or anything else for sale: No company may send you a commercial email without you having given it permission first. If you've never signed up to receive such a thing, they're breaking the law by even contacting you (if they're based in Europe). Some may be legitimate companies that simply bought your name from a dubious source, but most are probably just criminals.

You might think that these are so obviously dodgy, but if then send out enough adverts (millions), they do get a response and the gangs behind them do collect a lot of money. In the USA they’re allowed to operate under “freedom of speech” rights in the constitution there.