419 scams most commonly drop into your mailbox, but they do occasionally appear via other channels such as snail mail and social media. Today we're going to take a look at an angle seemingly beloved of scammers everywhere - a specific character type clung to down the years for no other reason than to cheat people out of their money. That character would happen to be "awesome UN peacekeeper with inexplicable access to millions of dollars because reasons".
The name used tends to be drawn from a small pool, alongside a specific selection of rotated photographs to "prove" the identity of the fictitious soldier. Quite often, those photographs - and occasionally names - are of genuine soldiers lifted from military news and interview sites. It doesn't matter what avenue the scammers decide to roll with - email, social media, dating profiles - this specific approach is a popular one, and they stick to it like glue.
What we have below is the closest thing possible to a default scam character in a 419 videogame.
Our first UN peacekeeping soldier with access to a huge chunk of cash comes in the form of "Victoria", who is one of the alter-egos for this particular fakeout. Should you follow certain spammy looking Twitter feeds with your account, you'll probably receive the below DM:
Hello my dear, My name is Victoria I am single woman, I hope all is well with you? I am a soldier who works as a United Nations peace keeping troops in Iraq, the war against terrorism. I have in my possession the sum of $ 5.6 million dollars I made here in Iraq. I deposited his money with an agent of the Red Cross because of the law of the United Nations. I want my stand as beneficiary to receive the fund and keep it safe because I do not trust the Red Cross agent. I want you to help me and keep the money in your savings account so that as soon as they are through with my mission here in Iraq, I will come to you to meet face to face and get to know. I'll give you 50% of the total money for your assistance after you receive the money. please reply to me, if you are willing to work with me so that I can send you more information on which the money was to keep the Red Cross Agent.Your urgent response is highly necessary. Best regards thanks alot contact me with my emailHere's an example of the same scam arriving by email, and below is an example of it popping up on a dating site:
The text from the above profile reads as follows:
I hope all is well with you? I am a soldier working as United Nations peace keeping troop in Iraq, on war against terrorism. I have in my possession the sum of 5.6 million USD Which I made here in Iraq. I deposited this money with a Red Cross agent because of the law of UN. I want you to stand as my beneficiary to receive the fund and keep it safe because I don't trust Red Cross agent. I want you to help me and keep the money save in your account so that as soon as am through with my mission here in Iraq, I will come over to you for us to meet face to face and know each other. I will give you 50 of the total money for your assistance after you have received the money. Please reply back to me here via Email: if you are willing to work with me so that i can send you more information where the money is been keeps by the Red Cross Agent. Your urgent reply is highly needed.Let's see...Red Cross, UN, Iraq, millions of dollars...yep, we have a match.
In many situations, members of the military may have the green light to deal with classified documents; unfortunately, one of our clones was a bit confused and ended up in the Bangalore classified ads instead:
Hello [I'm] FROM MOSCOW RUSSIA ARMY SERVING ON PEACE KEEPING IN SYRIA AM VERY BUSY ON DUTY EMAIL MY ID([email redacted]) AM VERY BUSY ON DUTY EMAIL ME FOR A VEERY IMPORTANT DEAL WITH YOU IN YOUR COUNTRYScammers have marched their work of fiction from Iraq to Syria, also she's now Russian because of course she is. I'm going to guess that any email response would probably involve the UN, Red Cross and a large pile of money.
Elsewhere, one of our clones expresses a love for the photography section of National Geographic.
We even found a whole platoon on Skype:
There are many more variations on this theme across the net, from social networking to random forum comments. The trick is to ignore / block / delete them all and go about your business. There are no secret millions waiting for you in Iraq, or anywhere else for that matter. Scammers are happy to play on the good reputation of your armed forces and convince you to indulge in a spot of "What could possibly go wrong".
Unfortunately for anyone reeled in, the answer is "quite a lot, actually".
Don't fall for it.