Autopsy of an Email Scam

Email scams keep getting more creative, elaborate, and humorous.  I get many on my email inbox, and have learned to recognize them blindfolded (ok, maybe not blindfolded).  The ideas that these scammers come up with keeps my writing list full.  Let’s take a look at one that I received today, and I am sure many of you have seen.  Take a look at what it looks like: 



You have been chosen to receive ($852,000.00 USD)in the on-going CHEVRON/TEXACO OIL&GAS COMPANIES END OF YEAR PROMOTION.
Please Send your Names,Telephone Number & Contact Address to Mr Kenneth Davids at( file for your claims.
Note:All email response should be sent to the claims processing officer (MR Kenneth Davids) to his official email address at
OR Dial +2348034481687 for more information on this program.
Yours Sincerely,
Mrs.Lay, Sandy.
Online Co-ordinator…
 Sandy Lay
Accounts Receivable
Vi-Jon, Inc.
8515 Page Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63114

Office (314) 592-1429  

 This e-mail (including attachments) is covered by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C. 2510-2521, is confidential and may be legally privileged, and is not to be used by anyone but the intended recipient(s). If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any retention, dissemination, distribution or copying of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please notify the sender by reply e-mail or call Vi-Jon, Inc. at 314-427-1000 and delete the message. 

Unfortunately, many people will fall victims of this scam before the end of the year.  To recognize these scams, look at the signs throughout the email. 

1.  The most obvious is:  Why would the Chevron/Texaco company would want to give me that amount of money, called in the email “a promotion”?  

 2.  Take a look at the amount of grammatical and punctuation errors in the email.  Even if you are not good at grammar and punctuation, look at the obvious spacing mistakes that jump out at you.  Also, take a look at the split words that are not supposed to be written like that (on-going, co-ordinator). 

3.  Did you notice how in the first paragraph it reads:  please send in your names? – names is in plural, which gives you an idea of the mentality of the scammer.  He/she has in mind all the names that will be captured via the email, all the potential victims. 

4.  Look how the email makes a point of creating an “official environment” by using words/phrases like:  to the claims processing officer (MR Kenneth Davids) to his official email address – this is an effort on their part to build trust in the reader’s eyes. 

5.  All this is followed by improper spacing, commas, and many other errors, leading to the end of the email where the person who is emailing identifies herself as Ms. Lay, Sandy (who gives you her many titles) – in an attempt to make it official, and hopefully by now, you are hooked and pick up the phone. 

6.  And as in a last attempt to convince you, what follows is an email disclaimer with “official wording” citing the law. 

So here you have it, the more you look at it in detail, the more signs screaming scam you will find.  If anything, it has provided me with a good laugh and writing material.  Hopefully, this autopsy will help you in learning to dissect your own email scams.  Have a good laugh.  


Email Scams Keep Getting Ridiculous

I have gotten many email scams in my inbox.  Some very creative, some pitiful, but this one caught my attention, and I had to share its ridiculous appeal with all of you.  Here’s what I got in my inbox:


My name is Mrs. Elena Tan. I am a dying woman who has decided to
donate what I have to you. for charitable goals.

I am 59 years old and was diagnosed for cancer about 2 years ago,
kindly Contact my lawyer through this email address or you can call
his private Lin 😦 +855976826769) ( if you
are interested in carrying out this task, so that he can arrange the
release of the funds ($10,500,000.00)to you.

My lawyer’s name is Barrister Richard Lee. I know I have never met you
but instincts tells me to do this, and i hope you act sincerely. Thank
you and God bless you.

Mrs. Elena Tan.

As you can see the grammatical and spelling errors are abundant, which is always a tell sign; but the sad story details, and the names, is what I got a kick out of.  So, I decided to google some of the details.  I discovered that I had gotten a short version of the scam, a shortened letter.  In the longest version, her husband had died 2 years ago, leaving her everything he worked hard for.  It also added that she was touched by God to donate the money …. Immediately, I felt offended.  How could they send me the short version?  Does that mean I am gullible, naive, stupid, or an easy prey?  Was there no need for an explanation, more detail to reel me in?  Plus, I know the meaning of the word barrister. 

I kept googling and came across the website of a lawyer in England (a barrister) with the name of Richard Lee.  His firm, called BLS for British Expatriate Services, offices in Malta.  Their clientele is the expatriate.  The services range from legal to banking, and other.  I found this very curious.

Then, I decided to google Mrs. Elena Tan.  Of course, many Elena Tan came up, but I also found more versions of the scam, every time more detailed and …. long – unlike my short version.

All this left me with one thought, that inspiration for writing comes from everywhere.  I can certainly think of a story, utilizing the above letter as writing material.  So next time you receive an email scam, view it in a different light – as writing material.  *But don’t forget to mark it as a scam, and delete it from your box.