We could all use more money, right? Whether it’s to add to your current income or to be able to give up your 9-to-5 job altogether, it’s fun to imagine the possibilities. And it’s this exact perception about finances and income that scammers are banking on.

Email scams are practically as old as email itself. Once a scammer figured out that people will read and respond to an email promising untold wealth, it opened the floodgates for a daily barrage of emails promising everything from 

inheritances to shared wealth opportunities to contest awards. But if there’s no money involved, why do scammers bother emailing people?

Oh, there’s money involved all right...yours.

Email scams come in a wide variety of formats and mechanisms, but they essentially all work in one of a handful of ways. The goals include: gaining access to your personally identifiable information by having you fill out the “necessary” forms; gaining access to your money by having you send in a “shipping and handling” fee or to pay the required taxes before receiving your prize; or having you click on a link to see what you’ve won, only to have the link contain malicious software that infects your computer and steals your information.

Here are some sure signs that the email is a scam:

  • Money for Nothing – NO ONE is going to contact you out of the blue and give you loads of money. It’s nice to dream about, but it’s simply not the reality. They’re also not going to contact you online from a free email address.
  • Dear Sir or Madam – Think about it…if someone was genuinely going to give you millions of dollars, wouldn’t they know your name?
  • Youve Alredy One! – Typos and poor grammar are dead giveaways that something isn’t right about this email. If the sender’s job is to inform people all day long that they’re now millionaires, wouldn’t they spell it right?
  • Hurry, This Offer Is Only Good for the Next Ten Seconds – Sorry, but if you’re the verified winner of a large sum of money or even better the recipient of an inheritance, there’s no ten second deadline. If your long lost great-great-aunt stipulated in her will that you had ten seconds to respond, something funny’s going on.
  • Just Send Us the Processing Fee – If you ever win anything that requires YOU to pay money, it’s a scam, whether in an email or in real life. Winners don’t pay before receiving their prizes; even multi-million dollar lottery winners pay a portion of the winnings to the IRS after claiming their prizes.
  • Funny, I Don’t Even Remember Signing Up for this Contest – That’s because you didn’t. Scammers got your name from any number of online sources. They send out these emails to thousands of people a day, hoping to get a bite. Don’t take their bait.

It would be wonderful to check your email on your lunch break and find out you could walk into your boss’ office and quit, but it’s simply not real. Don’t become a victim of these scammers. Laugh at the message if you want, let your mind wander to visions of escaping to your own private island if that’s your idea of a dream getaway, then delete the email.


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