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I Wonder How Often this Works?

We’ve all gotten the emails from some rich heir that’s in exile but has millions in a bank they can’t access. And if we help them, they’re going to share some of their riches with us. We all know the email, we’ve all seen it a hundred times (most are Nigeria based).

If you’ve been under a rock and you haven’t seen them yet, well you should really watch Ze Frank’s Ted Talks speech just below. It’s pretty hilarious (specially starting around the second minute – although the whole talk is really good):

This is a scam known as an advance-fee scam. The basic idea is that you’ll send them money in advance of getting a large payout, which of course never comes. You would think that this scam being as famous as it is today wouldn’t work anymore, but for some strange reason it still works. Don’t ask me why, I don’t get it. But for whatever reason, some people still get caught in this scam every year.

Of course these aren’t the only scams going around. Recently an email made it through our spam filters here at LandlordMax which I found interesting enough to comment on. Now I’m sure few people will fall for this particular scam, but imagine if you’re a small one person business (even smaller multi-person businesses have been known for falling for these types of scam), wouldn’t the following email look somewhat interesting. Especially if you were on the verge of running out of money during tougher economic times.

We are a software development and marketing company in Kuwait (Middle East). As part of our software portfolio, we would like to market and sell LandLordMax to our real estate and property management customers in the Kuwait market.However, we would like to brand the product as one of ours instead of LandLordMax. This would require a complete removal of all links that point to LandLordMax or your website, your license etc and be replaced with material suitable to our porfile. Also the logo will need to change.

We will market it and sell it and of course pay you license fees per installation.

Do you have any such reseller program that we can participate in. If not how do you suggest we take this forward.

The first thing to note is that they took the time to put in our company name several times. But what really sticks out, at least to me, is that they must have used some sort of keyword searching algorithm because they included “real estate and property management” in the email. This makes it look a lot more authentic. It makes it look like they’re in the right field. It’s no longer a generic email blasted to millions of random email addresses. At least it doesn’t obviously appear that way.

The other appealing thing in the email, for many businesses that is, is that they just want to market it. They want to “resell” it. They even go so far as to ask if there’s a “reseller program”. Although we all know this is bogus, I can see it further reducing the defensiveness of a more susceptible person.

Of course that’s never their intention. If it was, why would they later ask “However, we would like to brand the product as one of ours instead of LandLordMax. This would require a complete removal of all links that point to LandLordMax or your website, your license etc and be replaced with material suitable to our porfile. Also the logo will need to change.”

Basically they’re asking for a full version of the software, that’s completely de-branded, and has a no licensing implemented! If that doesn’t scare you as a business, I don’t know what would. Why not just go ahead and ask for the source code straight out? Generally, unless you’re acquiring a company for it’s assets or intellectual properties, you want to leverage the existing brand name because it has value. Not here.

You gotta love these types of requests. Normally I just dismiss them, but I had to comment on this one because of the higher than normal level of sophistication. Now maybe I just never noticed it before, but this is the first time I’ve seen such an email that includes matching company name with relevant keywords (not optimized keywords, but at least their relevant). I have to wonder how many businesses will be caught in this one versus the 419 scams (the initial email scam mentioned above).

By the way, as I was doing some research for this post, I came accross this interesting list of the top 10 email scams of 2008. Not exactly educational reading, but fun to go through. And they offer exerts of the different emails.

Like this article?


  •     Andy Brice
    · September 28th, 2008  · 3:42 pm  · Permalink

    There is one doing the rounds of people in the wedding industry (like me). Basically they try to get a wedding planner to plan their wedding and send them a cheque for £20k. They tell the wedding vendor to write a cheque for a very expensive limo. The second cheque is cashed by the bogus limo company and then the first cheque bounces. Nasty.

  •     Noble D. Bell
    · September 28th, 2008  · 8:28 pm  · Permalink

    Interesting post Steph. I recall getting a similar email this morning from RegNow of all people. I am going to look and see if I can find it. Wow!

  •     Steph
    · October 1st, 2008  · 2:30 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Andy,

    That’s pretty brutal, especially since most people who get married are young and pretty much use up what little money they’ve been able to save for their wedding.

  •     Steph
    · October 1st, 2008  · 2:31 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Nable,

    I wonder if it’s faked. I know a lot of spammers fake the sender as though it’s coming from us. I only know about this because of the bounced emails. Very annoying and there’s nothing we can do about it!

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