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Dying Merchant Advance Fee Scam

Message purporting to be from a wealthy merchant who is dying of cancer claims that he needs the recipient’s help in distributing his wealth to charity before he dies.

Dollars roll in a mousetrap as concept of money security or bait

© EM_prize

Brief Analysis
The message is a typical advance fee scam. The supposedly dying merchant is not dying at all. Instead, he is a criminal intent on tricking his victims into sending money and personal information. This is a very old scammer ruse that has been used over and over again since the rise of email and the Internet and, before that, via surface mail.

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This letter may come to you as a surprise due to the fact that we have not yet met. I have to say that I have no intentions of causing you any pains so i decided to contact you through this medium.

As you read this, I don't want you to feel sorry for me, because, I believe everyone will die someday. My name is Jamal Ali, a merchant in Dubai, in the U.A.E. I have been diagnosed with prostate and esophageal Cancer that was discovered very late due to my laxity in caring for my health. It has defiled all form of medicine and right now, I have only about a few months to live according to medical experts.

I have not particularly lived my life so well, as I never really cared for anyone not even myself but my business. Though I am very rich, I was never generous, I was always hostile to people and only focus on my business as that was the only thing I cared for. But now I regret all this as I now know that there is more to life than just wanting to have or make all the money in the world. I believe if i have a second chance to come to this world I would live my life a different way from how I have lived it. Now that I know my time is near, I have willed and given most of my properties and assets to my immediate and extended family members and as well as a few close friends and Schools in the UAE. I have decided to give alms to charity organizations, as I want this to be one of the last good deeds I do on earth. So far, I have distributed money to some charity organizations in the U.A.E, England and Ireland. Now that my health has deteriorated so badly, I cannot do this my self 
any more.

I want you to help me collect this deposit and dispatched it to charity organizations and let them know that it is I Jamal Ali that is making this generous donation.

I am writing this from my laptop computer in my hospital bed in England where I wait for my time to come. If you are interested to help me i will give you more information about this like the amount that i deposited in the bank and Contact of the bank so you can contact them. I will also send you pictures of my self when in the hospital.

Note that you will take 30% out of the funds and give 70% to the charity organizations. I pray that God uses you to support and assist me with good heart God be with you.

If you can help please respond back to me on my preivate email:  [email protected]


Jamal Ali

Detailed Analysis

This email claims to be from a wealthy merchant who has discovered that he has only a few months to live after being diagnosed with cancer. The merchant explains that he wishes to give a large portion of his wealth to charity before he dies, but is now too ill to organize such donations himself.

Therefore, claims the message, the merchant needs the recipient’s help to distribute his funds to the needy.  And, he promises the recipient a hefty percentage of his fortune in exchange for assisting him.

Supposedly, the merchant is writing from his hospital bed via a laptop computer.

But of course, the entire story is a work of the most heinous fiction. There is no dying merchant languishing in his hospital bed. Instead, there is a criminal determined to separate naive recipients from their money and personal information.

Those who believe the scammer’s lies and make contact as instructed, will be told that they must pay certain fees out of their own pocket before the “merchant’s” wealth can be transferred for distribution. 

The scammer will claim that the requested funds are necessary to cover banking and transfer fees, legal costs, tax obligations, and a range of other - entirely fictional – expenses.

The scammer will make it clear from the outset that all of the requested fees must be paid in advance for legal reasons and cannot be deducted from the promised funds. Victims will be instructed to send the requested fees via money transfer services such as Western Union.

Requests for more and more “unexpected” fees will continue until victims finally come to realize that they are being scammed and will never receive the promised fortune. Or, in some cases, they will simply run out of available funds to send.
And, as the scam unfolds, victims may be asked to send a great deal of personal and financial information, ostensibly to verify their identities and allow banking transfers.  This information may later be used to steal their identities.

In Internet terms, this particular scammer ruse is ancient. Versions of the same “dying merchant” scam go back to the early days of email and the Internet. And, before that, very similar scam letters were distributed via surface mail and fax.

Over decades, the scam messages have even shared many of the same phrases and claims. Often, they are identical except for some minor changes regarding the name and gender of the dying merchant, his or her location and supposed illness, and fund distribution details.

In some variants, the scammer poses as a close relative of the dying merchant.

Of course, after decades of exposure, many Internet users would almost instantly recognize such messages as advance fee scams. Nevertheless, people all around the world fall victim to such scams every day. The very fact that scammers almost continually deploy variants of this tired old “dying merchant scam” suggests that the ruse still works and works well.

Don’t assume that all of your family, friends and colleagues are aware of how advance fee scams work. Take the time to check. You might be surprised.

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Last updated: November 27, 2013
First published: November 27, 2013
By Brett M. Christensen
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