There are five main elements that work in the favour of Internet scammers.
Internet scammers rarely manage to access official government, bank, business and personal domain-based email accounts unless the owners of those accounts have exposed their usernames and passwords in Phishing exploits. Nearly all scammers rely on using free webmail accounts such as Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, AOL and the like. Many fraudsters send their bulk spam emails using SMTP services that offer to send tens of thousands of emails from servers in nations such as Argentina, Japan and China.
Virtually all Internet scams would come to a grinding halt if the providers of free webmail accounts would use stringent procedures to verify the real identities of account applicants and make sure that every account that is set up on their servers is not used for fraudulent purposes. Most free webmail providers do not seem to take much notice of reports from people advising them of scammers using their services and the scammers rely on this lackadaisical approach to keep operating with impunity. For instance, a person can simply open and operate a Gmail account without providing any verifiable identity information to Google and that is so wrong.
The worst offender by far is Google, where my own records show that more than 80% of scam emails come from free Gmail accounts. Yahoo Mail, AOL and Hotmail are other major sources of scam emails, as well as free email accounts on domains owned and provided by the World Media Group. Now if these companies would demand that all subscribers provide verifiable identification and ban anybody who is caught sending out scam emails, this would curtail most of these Internet scams on the spot.
Here is an example of the email addresses of fraudsters who sent me advance fee scam emails in just one eight hour period on the night of 14 June 2021.
Note that nearly all of the scam emails came from those free Gmail accounts above. I did receive one scam email from a free Russian webmail address as follows: firstname.lastname@example.org. And I received just one scam email from a free Yahoo email address: email@example.com.
Many scammers send emails from one address and receive on a free Gmail or other webmail address. Just because something appears to come from 'firstname.lastname@example.org', it usually means that the sending email address has been spoofed and the reply email address will be guaranteed to be something like 'email@example.com'. Always check the reply address if the sender email address looks like it might be official.
Many of those scam email addresses try to appear as if they come from banks, international courier, the US Internal Revenue Service, US Treasury and other official sources. Some of them are good old 'Dead Bank Customer' scammers, alleged dying widows or alleged orphans who want to transfer millions of dollars to me - as long as I pay some sort of advance fee first, or be stupid enough to buy gift cards and email the validation numbers to these bastards.
Free webmail providers should be forced to deal with this problem by law, because they do not make much of an effort to do it voluntarily, if at all. If the nations in which these free webmail providers operate would make them responsible for scam emails emanating from their servers, as well as responses to scams going to fraudsters to whom they gave free email accounts, all backed up by very heavy penalties and restitution to the people who had been scammed by email facilitated by those free webmail providers, it would make life very difficult for most Internet scammers.
If Google and all the other free webmail providers would demand hard indisputable identification from any person wishing to open a free webmail account, such as on Gmail, virtually all those scams would dry up completely. But as long as Google keeps allowing scammers to open free Gmail accounts with absolutely no proof of identity, then those scammers will be fleecing people of billions of dollars each year. The worst thing is that it is very cumbersome to report scammer emails to Google Gmail - the process is daunting and simply is not worth the time spent to try to just knock off one scam email account. The scammer will merely open up another Gmail account in the matter of a couple of minutes.
I am surprised that all those Americans who have lost money to scams facilitated by Google's provision of free Gmail addresses have not launched a massive class action against that company for providing the free means to scammers to defraud people and not taking any measures to stop them. I am also surprised that the US Department of Justice has not taken action against Google, Yahoo, AOL and the World Media Group among many others for doing the same and facilitating the global scam trade.
The operative part of any scam is getting money from suckers. That money not only has to be squeezed out of the mugs, but it has to flow to the scammers without any chance of being retrieved in a transaction reversal. Banks have policies of reversing transactions and refunding money obtained by fraud, even though the account holders receiving such funds have been thoroughly checked out. So unconditional cash transfer services such as Western Union, MoneyGram, RIA, WorldRemit, Remitly and others are the essential component of just about every Internet scam.
The problem with money transfer services is that the funds are completely irrevocable and irretrievable, once they are handed over to be sent. There is no way of obtaining a refund and essentially, once suckers send money via a cash transfer service, they might as well have handed it directly to the scammers in person. Most transactions by Western Union, MoneyGram and WorldRemit go to western African nations such as Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Cote D'Ivoire, Senegal and Burkina Faso and are made by fools sending money to Internet scammers.
In recent times, Internet scammers have been demanding iTunes cards, Google Play cards, Amazon cards, Steam Wallet cards and other gift cards as payments from their targets. Anybody who falls for this really has to be very stupid. For instance, the Apple website clearly states the following:
That is how it works. Scammers demand that gullible people buy iTunes and other gift cards, then scratch the validation area to reveal the hidden numbers and email those numbers to the scammers. Then these bastards sell the numbers on the Dark Web at a discount to people who then purchase items from the companies who issue those gift cards. People who are sucked into this gift card scam never seem to have the brains to ask why a government, bank or company would request a gift card as a payment of a fee or service. It's beyond nonsensical, but many stupid people fall for it without question.
There is no such thing as a totally honest police force and when it comes to third world nations, it can be safely assumed that a large percentage of police officers are 'on the take'. In west African nations that are hotbeds of Internet fraud, most police seem to be in the pockets of the scammers, who have more than enough money coming in from suckers to pay off those cops to not only turn a blind eye to their illegal activities, but in many cases, those cops are even employed by the scammers as protection.
This is a very difficult issue to deal with in poor third world nations and this is why Internet fraud is the third largest money earner in Nigeria. Other west African nations such as Benin, Ghana, Cote D'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Togo and a few others are also hotbeds of Internet scam operations. Occasionally fraudsters are arrested, but any day of the week, Internet cafés in Africa are crammed with scammers sitting in front of notebook computers hooked up to the café's Internet Wi-Fi and plying their illegal trade while the cops just look on and even offer them protection.
Unfortunately there is nothing much that can be done about corrupt cops in those third-world countries, but one remedy that could possibly be effective is the threat of disconnection from the Internet. For instance, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) could be given the power to audit traffic emanating from Internet fraud hotspots such as those western African nations and if the authorities in those nations do not act to curtail such scams, total access to the Internet would be removed for a period of time and that nation would be cut off. It would be ridiculously easy to do.
There is an old saying - 'A fool and his money are soon parted'. Another famous saying, wrongly attributed to American showman PT Barnum is - 'There's a sucker born every minute.' Sadly, both those sayings are very true. There seems to be an endless number of stupid and gullible people who hand over large sums of money to fraudsters without even checking up to see if they are being taken for a ride. And there will be plenty of scammers out there to take advantage of their stupidity.
Despite the best efforts of law enforcement authorities and mountains of information on the Internet, such as on this website, exposing how Internet scammers operate and revealing the bones of their scams, stupid and greedy people will still respond to emails from fraudsters purporting to be government officials, bank officers, financiers, dying widows, orphans in refugee camps and lovelorn young females. All these scams have one thing in common - the scammers offer to send vast amounts of money to people, if only they first pay some sort of fee, purportedly for clearing the funds or paying for a certificate, or they prey on the loneliness of people who are just looking for love and then rip those people off, once they are hooked in romance.
The prime motivator for suckers is the lure of obtaining millions of dollars from people who just want to transfer this money to them, after the suckers fork out some money first. Of course there are no millions of dollars and scammers will try to bleed as much money from the fools who respond to them until they either wake up to the fact that they have been ripped off, or they simply run out of money to keep sending to the scammers.
Unfortunately, stupidity and greed are traits that are very hard to cure. There have been many people who have been conned out of millions of dollars by Internet fraudsters, yet despite being warned by police and friends that they were being scammed, those idiots kept sending more money to the fraudsters. One such idiot in Western Australia lost over $2 million in a cash washing fraud that is known as the Anti-Breeze Banknote Scam that no sane person would ever believe. But plenty of gullible fools have fallen for it. You can read about such scams on the Scambaiting page.
Internet scams could easily be stopped if people were not so gullible and dumb. If people did not respond to ridiculously unbelievable offers of money, did not hand out their email usernames and passwords in Phishing scams, did not click on links in emails that loaded Trojan malware onto their computers and were just a bit more savvy, Internet fraudsters would be looking for different lines of work.
Like the illegal narcotics trade, where the driving force are the users who are willing to pay good money for illegal drugs, the driving force of scams are the fools who are too stupid to realise that they are being fleeced. It's all about cause and effect. Scammers wouldn't exist if people were too smart to fall for their crap.
It is hard to find sympathy for people who have been fleeced because they thought that they were getting money for nothing, even in what appeared to be illegal methods. But the one really sad aspect of the scam industry is that these bastards prey on lonely people who are just looking for some love in their life and they are particularly vulnerable to being conned by very clever fraudsters who play on their emotions. Those scammers deserve no pity, as they have caused many people to commit suicide and there really should be a death sentence for those bastards.
So what can be done about these funds flowing via money transfer services and gift cards to scammers? The solution is very simple. People need to boycott all money transfer methods that are irrevocable. If people need to send funds, for instance to make on-line purchases, they should do it by direct bank transfer to legitimate bank accounts, or by services such as PayPal that guarantee refunds in cases of fraud. As for people buying gift cards because they were told that this was required to pay a tax bill or other account, anybody who does this really is a very stupid and gullible fool.
It is a crying shame that money transfer agencies do not act to stop fraudsters from using their services, but at the end of the day, it is really up to people to refuse to transfer funds in any way that is irrevocable. If everybody did this, the majority of Internet frauds would dry up. The good thing is that many stores now have signs warning customers to not purchase gift cards for any other purpose than to use them at the portals of the companies that actually issue them.
Fraudsters often send emails advertising Work At Home employment. Essentially these are thinly disguised money laundering schemes. People who apply for these alleged jobs are told that they will be collecting money from sales from various people and they would transfer it, less their percentage, to the fraudsters posing as company officials. Believe it or not, there are many fools who are stupid enough to use their own bank accounts for this illegal activity until they are reported, caught and prosecuted. Of course the scammers almost always get away scot-free.
This sort of activity could also be stopped in its tracks, simply by banks informing every single one of their clients that if they are caught laundering money for Internet scammers, their accounts would immediately be closed, their names would be circulated to all banks in their nations to prevent them opening up accounts elsewhere and they would be reported to police and prosecuted. Cutting off all channels of receiving funds would put scammers right out of business.
There are a number of domains hosting email servers that are used almost exclusively for sending scam emails, apart from the usual free webmail services such as Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL and many others. Then there are email services from notorious web portals that provide free email accounts that are exploited by scammers, such as the World Media Group that has registered many domain names that appear to reflect professions and industries, such as @lawyer.com, @london.com, @consultant.com and @europe.com.
Those suffixes appear legitimate, but those domains are being used by scammers who open up free email accounts with them. Always remember - if it sounds too good to be true, it is a scam. So if you receive emails that come from such email addresses that are offering you amazing deals, then treat them with the greatest of suspicion. You can literally guarantee that the emails are from scammers.
Then there are web portals such as the infamous Open Computer Network of Japan - www.ocn.ne.jp. Literally anybody can go to this portal and register a subdomain for free and then send scam emails using the email server of the subdomain. In fact, this Japanese email portal is used by a myriad of scammers from Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Cote D'Ivoire, Burkina Faso and other nearby West African nations where Internet scamming seems to be the prime money-making industry. So scam emails will come from a myriad of addresses using those subdomains, such as these:
I have used the word 'name' to indicate the scammer's particular email identifier, but for each subdomain, there is usually a team of scammers setting up their own email accounts using various names. For example, a bunch of scammers using the @soleil.ocn.ne.jp might use email addresses that look like this:
What is very noticeable about scam emails coming from those Japanese subdomains is that the scammers always require replies to be sent to other email addresses, usually free Webmail accounts on Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, AOL and others. Obviously sending scams from this Japanese portal is OK, but scammers never receive replies to those Japanese subdomain addresses.
If you get an email from an address such as firstname.lastname@example.org telling you that you will receive millions of dollars, but you need to reply to email@example.com, then you can be assured that apart from the false promise of untold wealth that doesn't exist, the fact that you are asked to reply to a different email address screams that it is a scam.
If you receive spam from any email addresses on the www.ocn.ne.jp domain or other known scam domains, there are fairly easy ways to deal with them, by blocking them on your email server directly or on your email program by setting up filters. How you will block unwanted scam emails will depend on how you receive your emails. If you are using your own domain-based email account, such as firstname.lastname@example.org, then you have a few choices as to how to do this.
You can go to your domain administration and the email filtering system and just enter the email addresses that you want to block on the BLOCK SENDER facility. With most domain administration systems, you can also block entire top-level domains. The best thing to do to kill off a lot of scam emails is to block entire countries where you have no interest, but that are hotbeds of Internet scams. If you don't know anybody in Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Belarus, Bulgaria and other such places, just block their entire country domains. Your ISP will show you how to do this.
Then there are the top-level domains that are purportedly for business, but seem to be mainly used to send unsolicited spam. Here are some examples and I advise you to add these to your spam filter and block any emails from those domains.
I have blocked all emails from many nations, especially those West African countries that generate most scam emails. I do not know anybody in those nations and I have no interest in receiving emails from anybody in them, along with emails from certain special interest domains such as www.faith.com, the portal for God-botherers, or www.loan.net, a portal for lenders and also loan scams. My email program never gets emails from those domains because they are blocked right at my www.ziggy.com.au domain email server spam filter and my email address email@example.com and never get sent to my computer or iPhone.
If you are using any of the free webmail services such as Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, AOL and others, you can only set up filters to send scam emails immediately to Trash, rather than block them from arriving in your Inbox. You will have to refer to the tutorials from those webmail service providers to learn how to do this, but it is very easy. Just keep adding new filters and eventually your email Inbox will start looking civilised. Don't be scared to block top-level domains from entire nations. Obviously if you don't want to receive anything from Nigieria or Benin that are hotbeds of Internet scams, just block those entire nations.
As long as suckers are born every minute and are easily parted from their money, there will be sharks circling them and cleaning them out. Stupidity and gullibility are very hard to cure, especially when sheer greed is the motivating element that lures people into laying out their money on a promise of getting more money without having to work for it. This is why gambling is one of the largest businesses in the world, but very few gamblers ever win because the odds are always stacked against them.
If my remedies that I described were applied, Internet scams would come to a grinding halt. But this will not happen and fraudsters will always find ways to rip people off. At the end of the day, it's the people who need to just beware of these Internet scams and not fall for them.