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My View: Big, if true – fortunes await in your inbox

By Lee Coppola

It seems as if every day I’m told I’m honest, reputable, trustworthy, even romantic. And with the compliments come promises of fortunes if only I send $(fill in the blank) for delivery charges.

Where, I wonder, do these internet scammers come up with these outrageous stories? And who, I wonder, would fall for them?

The latest scheme wants to repay me for the $9 million I lost to overseas crooks I believed were going to reward me. The promise came from Steve Cox, the purported head of the Compensation Committee located in the Washington Field Office of the FBI. His email?

But Steve wasn’t the only FBI official to contact me. Both FBI directors who succeeded James Comey sent me emails. Andrew McCabe told me the FBI, “through our global intelligence monitoring system,” learned I had $25 million in the Central Bank of Malaysia, while Christopher Wray informed me “corrupt government officials” had tried to take my $10.5 million from the same bank.

Why even the secretary general of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, emailed me to report he found my name on a list of “people who have been scammed in any part of the world,” thus earning me $2.5 million in compensation. But he failed to tell me about an email from Western Union that informed me the “United Nation’s” had deposited $1.5 million for me in Western Union Malaysia as part of an “ongoing U.N. Humanitarian Aid/Poverty Alleviation Program.”

Lee Coppola.

Not all emails touted found money for me. Some had me taking part in “risk-free” schemes to collect inheritance from persons who perished “with the same last surname” as mine, one in a tsunami in Japan, another in a Taiwan earthquake. Of course, my “inheritance,” even though I was a “trustworthy foreign person,” was to be split with the email sender.

Then there were the scam emails warning me about scam emails. “You really have to stop dealing with those people that are contacting you and telling you that your fund is with them,” cautioned Cyndy Banks. “They will dry you up until you have nothing.” Cyndy had a better way. For $300 in delivery charges William Dudley would send me my certified check “through the express courier service.”

Ibrahim Mustafa Magu, on the other hand, found my email address in one of the scam artists’ files and I was one of “100 lucky people around the globe” with a compensatory “little token” of $3.5 million. It would seem my definition of “little token” differs from Mr. Magu’s.

But why accept a measly $3.5 million when Fred R. Lee of the U.S. State Department’s Refund Payment Committee was offering me $6.5 million “through payment by ATM card.” Now how can I doubt him, he being among “members of the Refund Payment Committee who are honorable men of great repute and integrity.”

What does all this tell us? Yes, it’s a lesson in deceit, but one that some sadly fall for, adding another other black mark on the internet. By the way, I never pursued any of the fabulous offers seeking personal information. Maybe if the grammar and punctuation had been better.

Lee Coppola is former dean of the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University.

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