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 Soo.... is this a scam?

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sm_gal
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Joined: 25 Mar 2013
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 2:49 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Hey all.

So I received a strange email last week and after a few days of emailing back and forth and discussing with friends, I thought maybe I should get your opinion.

Basic details:
I run a youth group at a church in the US. My church email is posted on our website. Last week I got an email from a guy claiming to be in **country in the middle east***. He said he had a dream about Jesus and wanted to know some things about Jesus / how to become a Christian. Now of course, my radar went up because I've read this site a lot before and it just seems a bit hard to believe (particularly since he thought it important to mention that his family is rich). But I figured a little info about Jesus can't hurt even if he is a scammer, so I responded back with some basic info about Jesus and some bible links. I'll post the emails below. I won't post my responses because it's basically just a lot of Jesus stuff (Jesus = loves people = good).

My friends theorize this is him "reeling me in" before inevitably asking for money. Obv I'm not going to send money or anything else, but I guess I just wanted a second opinion about how to proceed. Am I correct in understanding that there isn't really much risk for me here as long as I don't give him my info / anything else? I traced the headers on the email and it does seem to have originated in **country in the middle east***.

**** Sorry, removing the emails for his protection. I'm strongly inclined to believe he is sincere after some more correspondence, and I don't want anything "out there" that could potentially put him in danger. *****


Last edited by sm_gal on Mon Jul 01, 2013 6:25 pm; edited 2 times in total
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vonpaso xlura
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 3:36 am Reply with quoteBack to top

This doesn't sound like any scam I'm familiar with. Could you post the complete headers of the email? We may be able to tell whether he really is in Afghanistan.

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This is very frustrating ... their said they is know transaction ... I feel very ebasared right now ... I feel very dissapoited again
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sm_gal
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 3:39 am Reply with quoteBack to top

**** removed for anonymity sake *****


Last edited by sm_gal on Wed Mar 27, 2013 4:42 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 6:43 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I haven't seen this one before and I haven't seen 419s coming out of Afghanistan either. He may be a genuine customer. Just exercise due caution and if he starts promising trunkboxes full of money, bring him back here and we will twist his head off. Otherwise, give him all the good news he wants Smile

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vonpaso xlura
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:30 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I saw the post on SW saying it's a scam. I'm still not so sure. Try this: Make up a new email address, along with a church name that anyone in your country would recognize as silly and a snail-mail address that is plausible that doesn't exist, and respond to the original email he sent from the new address. Make sure your baiting character's reply is different enough from your RL reply to the first email that you can tell from his reply if he's read it. Then compare his reply (if any) to your baiting address with his reply to your RL address. That should tell you with pretty-near certainty whether it's a scam.

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This is very frustrating ... their said they is know transaction ... I feel very ebasared right now ... I feel very dissapoited again
YOU CAN'T EVEN KEEP YOUR BULLSHIT SCAM STORIES STRAIGHT!! YOU AREN'T EVEN A SMART CRIMINAL!! YOU ARE GOING TO PRISON!!
E NO GO BETTER FOR YOUR MAMA NAA ME U DEY WYNE ABI GOD PUNISHED YOU AND YOUR GENERATION
you are a fake people so do not ever write to me again.
Am mad at you right now ... Am tired of your questions ... Am sick and tire you and your bank
Nigerian pig . go swallow a grenade idiot. Boko Haram will solve your problem idiot .
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sm_gal
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:16 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Hey,
Thanks, I appreciate your input. It's reassuring to know you guys don't think it's a scam!! After I sent him the Afghan language bible links, he replied today with several questions about them, how to pray, etc. He clearly took the time to read it. I think at this point I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and answer his questions. I think I'd rather feel like a fool in a few weeks than ignore what may be a genuine request for help.

But yes, Nailgunner, if he starts asking for crazy stuff I will totally come back for you guys to have some fun!

Thanks all.
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Dorothy
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 3:04 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

There are so many soldier-in-Afghanistan scams that it's easy to see afghanistan mentioned and just not look any further.

While there are certainly some things that could be a setup for a money request, there is definitely no reason to automatically assume this is a scammer at this point.

However, I would use caution when interacting with this person, just to be safe, and limit the personal information you give him to the information that is already publicly available. Don't send photos that are not already on your website, and while you will obviously be sharing information about your beliefs, don't share too much information about events or people in your personal life. Those things can be shared and/or used for scamming (or stalking) in the future.

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wowwow
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 3:15 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Not saying these are a sure giveaway

Quote:
my father is rich

Quote:
i want help from churches

Quote:
Keep it secreat


but they are a sure giveaway Wink .. once you befriend him/her/it you can be sure the begging bowl will come out with promise of daddy's riches.

and a muslim wanting to become christian? That's kind of like out of the frying pan into the fire isn't it Wink

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Last edited by wowwow on Mon Mar 25, 2013 3:17 pm; edited 1 time in total
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sm_gal
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 3:17 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Full quote of post above removed - please don't, we can see it - RC- Mod

LOL! Well, joke's on him, 'cause I'm going to teach him about Jesus anyway! And if he doesn't respond nicely to the "nice" teachings, then ya'll can let him know about the "lesser known gospels". Wink
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ScammedOut
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 12:41 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Quote:
i want to become a christian please help me i know and u know better than me that my religion is only religion of terror and a jial for humian right please help


I don't know. I tend to think it might be genuine.

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TheDane
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:26 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

^ I agree. This looks too much like a beggar to me, and we do not bait beggars here at Eater, as begging is not fraud. I would advice that you drop him. There are plenty more where he came from.

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sm_gal
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:35 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I figured I'd update. So on Sunday, I found a link to an online bible in the two languages in Afghanistan (Pashto and Dari) and sent him links there so he could take a look.

*** removing emails ***

So, it kinda seems like he is done??


Last edited by sm_gal on Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:48 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Dorothy
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:50 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Keep in mind that the OP is not a baiter. (S)he is not playing this person on as a baiter would. (S)he is not leading the scammer to believe that there is money to be made. (S)he is merely responding to questions that fall within his/her published area of interest.

The question here is not "Should I bait this person?"
It is: "Is there a possibility that this person is real and interested in learning about the beliefs that I routinely share as part of my activities running a church youth group?"

At this point, we do not have solid evidence this is a scammer. sm_gal does not wish to cut someone off if there is a possibility he is real. Given the nature of sm_gal's activities, this position clearly makes sense. If sm_gal decides to continue to correspondence based on the possibility that he might be real, it is completely unconnected our position on baiting beggars.

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TheDane
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 2:02 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

^ Thanks for clearing that up - I misread that (I'm at work, so I admit to not reading it all word for word Embarassed).

Yes, it seems that he is done. And it also seems that wasn't not after any money, but that he was the genuine thing.

I'm not a religious man myself... but religious or not, I'm an admirer of any person who is willing to help others, without expecting anything in return. And that goes for you too, sm_gal... thank you for trying to help people finding meaning in this strange life. Smile

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 2:04 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I think you have very much done the right thing by taking a suspicious approach and seeking our counsel about the legitimacy (or otherwise) of this person.

If he is a scammer you might expect a miraculous conversion next, followed shortly by a life-or-death emergency that requires money from you as an essential matter of survival.

If not, you may have some really interesting conversations ahead. Have fun!

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sm_gal
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 3:58 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

TheDane wrote:


Yes, it seems that he is done. And it also seems that wasn't not after any money, but that he was the genuine thing.

I'm not a religious man myself... but religious or not, I'm an admirer of any person who is willing to help others, without expecting anything in return. And that goes for you too, sm_gal... thank you for trying to help people finding meaning in this strange life. Smile


Thanks TheDane, I appreciate it. I similarly appreciate all of you who helped and gave me advice!
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:30 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Please stop by again, sm_gal, and let us know how this turns out.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:34 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I will! I'll let you know how it turns out.
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sm_gal
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 1:00 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Ok, so I just can't resist sharing this. I know there is still a great possibility this is an elaborate scam, but I honestly feel like at this point it falls more likely into the "truth is stranger than fiction" category.

At the suggestion of a user here, I asked him how it was that he found my church. Now, my church is huge and pretty popular so it certainly is possible, though highly unlikely.

**** removing email ****

I am gonna be so bummed if he asks me for money in 2 weeks Sad


Last edited by sm_gal on Tue Apr 09, 2013 5:10 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Roycropper
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:20 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I can see what makes you suspicious, on here 'rich father' = 'stand by for an inheritance / trunkbox scam', and attempts to befriend you = he'll be on the next plane, but needs some money via Western Union first. Lads have made us cynical like that.

He may have found you by Googling 'Bible Study' or similar - a troubled soul with a dream could well be asking for help - you should give him the benefit of the doubt and not bait him. Also he will have your real life info, another reason why you shouldn't.

As for keeping it secret, in his part of the world the consequences of picking the wrong religion can be very serious indeed, even fatal.

That said, be ready to run a mile if he suddenly has a trunkbox full of father's money, or wants to come and join you. As you say it would be very disappointing.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 12:52 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

@sm_gal: No matter what he does, you are right to be wary but also great to at least try and help him if he truly seeks it. You will be able to hold your head high at the end of the day.

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sm_gal
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 4:44 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Thanks all. I went back and removed some of the emails because at this point I"m pretty convinced of his sincerity. He responded today (after I asked him if he wanted to know anything else) sort of just saying "no thanks I'm good now". Just want to make sure I don't put anything "out there" that could compromise his safety.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions and advice. If anything changes I'll update again.
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sm_gal
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 09, 2013 5:09 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Just thought I'd update. It's definitely legit. We've swapped hundreds of emails, spoken on skype video chat, and he has sent me plenty of legit (i.e. non reverse image search able) emails and videos.

And btw, though he described himself as "rich" in that initial email, it's clear after much more info about his life that it's more like "solidly upper middle class".

Just wanted to thank you all for your advice and support. Approx 105% of my friends told me it was obviously a scam and that I should stop communicating with him, and the one thing I had in my corner was that "the scam forum people think it could be real!!". So thank you.

I guess truth is stranger than fiction.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:42 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

What a nice story. Thanks for the update. I hope you can help him find what he is looking for.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2013 12:46 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I've quite enjoyed this Thread. Thank you for posting it sm_gal. If you have any more updates, I'm all ears!

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