The e-mail that we received this week has scam written all over it. The tell-tale signs include the Hotmail address of the sender, lack of e-mail signature, vague details about the actual project, grammar and punctuation mistakes, etc. We saw the red flags immediately, including some funny stuff, like the sender wanting us to print, bind and deliver thousands of pamphlets to Germany -- hilarious, right? Here's the e-mail:
My name is Charles B whittaker, an executive Managing Director and the Western Region Leader at Frank Crystal & Company. I got a contract, in which I am needing help in translation. The project is about translating the attached document I sent you to a Germany language, print them out in thousands of copies, bind them in form of pamphlets and to deliver them to our company in Germany. I will need your help in the translation. Please, let me know how this will work out, and email me the total price we are paying you for the translation. I want you to know as well, we are needing the assignment done on or before August 20th. I attached the document, sent to you in MS and PDF files. Please, kindly acknowledge my proposal, and get back to me as soon as possible.
We dug a bit deeper. The company Charles claims to work for, Frank Crystal & Company, does indeed exist, and we bet they are not happy that their company name is being used in this way. They are an important insurance brokerage firm in the U.S. While one can never be 100% sure that a scam is a scam until one has actually been scammed, we'll go out on a limb (not really) and say this is a scam. However, how is it a scam? Is it the classic scam where they will assign the project, offer to pay ahead of time, then send too much money and ask for us to wire the difference back (that's an old one, and turns out the initial wire was not legit)?
We took a quick look at the attachment (always dangerous), and a Google search with the first paragraph of the text yielded what we expected: the text was taken, verbatim, from this website. It is crystal-clear to us that this is a hilarious scam, but we are puzzled as to how this scam could potentially work for the scammers.
Any ideas, readers? Have you heard about this one? We'd love to hear from you.