Maybe you check the spam folder now and then, and maybe, just maybe you really have a soft spot for unfortunate third-world royalty. But no matter how your heart bleeds for those unfortunate developing world princes with nowhere to hoard their millions of dollars, you have to admit these scams have been pretty well dismantled by now.
Well, we feel for those Nigerian scammers, and a little truth shouldn’t stop an innovative entrepreneur from stealing a page from Niccolo Machiavelli’s playbook and one-upping these failed attempts at wheedling unsuspecting email checkers out of their hard-earned cash. We’ve decided to provide the industrious scammer with a few suggestions. Call them variations on a theme, or new twists on old favorites.
1. Bill Gates needs your dollar
He must be convincing, because his name is annexed by a couple of big scams claiming to be from Disney and AOL. Basically, they involve passing along a chain e-mail or sharing the above picture on Facebook. Here’s a sample:
Subject: PLEEEEEEASE READ!!!! it was on the news!
To all of my friends, I do not usually forward messages, But this is from my good friend Pearlas Sandborn and she really is an attorney. If she says that this will work – It will work…
Bill Gates sharing his fortune. If you ignore this, You will repent later. Microsoft and AOL are now the largest Internet companies and in an effort to make sure that Internet Explorer remains the most widely used program, Microsoft and AOL are running an e-mail beta test. When you forward this e-mail to friends, Microsoft can and will track it ( If you are a Microsoft Windows user).
For every person that you forward this e-mail to, Microsoft will pay you $245.00 For every person that you sent it to that forwards it on, Microsoft will pay you $243.00 and for every third person that receives it, You will be paid $241.00. Within two weeks, Microsoft will contact you for your address and then send you a check.
Um, yeah. You can do better than that. Though AOL is pretty generous – single-handedly supporting the screen printed shrinkwrapped CD mailer industry for about 10 years – I’ve never received ANYTHING for free from Microsoft. Not even a cool logo decal in a product box.
So how about: a personal note from Bill apologizing for the relentlessly sh*tty Microsoft Word, and offering a Bill-approved 3rd party patch to improve its functionality? For a small fee, of course.
2. Mark “Robin Hood” Zuckerberg
An innocent-looking Facebook message claiming Mark Zuckerberg is giving away millions? Yep, that’s worth a share. Like the Bill Gates scam, for a mere copy and repost, you could be one of 1000 recipients of 4.5 million dollars.
Pretty transparent, right? But what about rolling in another little-understood yet ubiquitous technology phenomenon?
How about: Mark Zuckerberg is convinced that Bitcoin is going down the tubes! Facebook CEO balks at offer to buy Bitcoin. Don’t miss your opportunity to sell now before it tanks. I mean, it’s gotta go belly up some time, right? We’re offering 30 cents on the bitcoin dollar value. Don’t miss out!
3. Boycott! Boycott!
This one’s interesting, appearing under the email subject “Don’t Pump Gas on May 15.” An e-mail hoax pleaded with American drivers, “Don’t pump gas on May 15!” The hope was that large oil companies would suffer great financial losses if millions of people refused to fuel up on one single day.