Please Send Me Your Money


by Tim Moran

So it turns out those Nigerian scamsters were on to something all along.

Now, we're not suggesting you share your personal information or send money to the people behind those plaintive emails asking for your help in repatriating the family fortune. You know the pitch:

Dear [You]

Permit me to inform you of my desire of going into business relationship with you. I have the believe you are a reputable and responsible and trustworthy person I can do business with from the little information so far I gathered about you during my search for a partner and by matter of trust I must not hesitate to confide in you for this simple and sincere business...

...Anticipating hearing from you immediately.

Thanks and God bless. Best Regards. Stella Amah.

These emails have been around long enough to become punchlines -- an FTC warning from 2003 says the advance-fee scam itself has been around for decades," with email taking it to "epidemic proportions." The genius of the fraud lies in the well-mannered approach: "And apparently, many compassionate consumers are continuing to fall for the convincing sob stories, the unfailingly polite language, and the unequivocal promises of money."

The Social-Engineering.org (Security Through Education) now offers more evidence that the Nigerians, or whomever was actually behind these hoaxes, had the right idea. The organization recently conducted a poll that asked whether "endearment" or "authority" was more apt to be successful if used by a malicious scammer.

The result? Honey really does attract more flies than vinegar. "Endearment seemed to take the largest portion of chosen methods [respondents] felt would work. Endearment is defined as 'a term or act expressing affection.' We would have guessed that most would have chosen authority, but in fact we agree that endearment works in more cases over authority. A simple word or action that can make someone feel you care can go a long way into building rapport, trust and a relationship that will cause that person to want to give you the information you seek."

The social-engineering group's poll also noted that "Endearment took first place in both men and women as the method they felt would be the most effective technique. Authority was much further behind with the males, which we found interesting too."

See also: Seven Human Weaknesses Criminals Exploit.