Every so often I find myself dealing with a blog comment by someone claiming to offer a blank ATM card that can be used to hack any ATM to get an unlimited supply of free money. And every time I wonder whether I ought to blog about it, but it’s never seemed a high priority. After all, it’s pretty obvious that if such a thing actually existed, it couldn’t possibly be legal, could it? Even the scammers who offer it tend to admit that it’s illegal – one recent example tells me that it’s nevertheless untraceable, since it also stops the CCTV camera from ‘detecting’ you. It also lays golden eggs and predicts the winner of the Grand National. (I made that last bit up, but it doesn’t seem that much more far-fetched.)
So who cares if people who don’t have a problem with robbing banks get caught out by a scammer? Well, maybe some of the potential victims are desperate rather than intrinsically amoral.
It’s worth noting, maybe, that 419 scammers are often frank about the fraudulent nature of the transaction they’re proposing – without making it clear, of course, that it’s their ‘partner’ in crime who will be scammed, not the government or bank – but attempt to justify it by claiming that the money they’re offering would otherwise be misused by the organization from which it’s stolen. The perpetrators of this scam will sometimes make somewhat similar justifications – ‘because the government cannot help us so we have to help our self’ – and it’s often quite hard to feel much sympathy for a government agency or a bank… Of course, the illegality of the transaction does make it difficult for the victim to report it when they realize they’ve been scammed.
It’s sometimes assumed that this kind of scam is a 419 – I don’t know that this is always the case. They’re usually badly written, but not in the same stilted way that characterize so many 419s. Here’s an example of a blogger who found a scammer who certainly seems to be based in Nigeria, though.
So here’s the bad news (though it’s good news for those whose hard-earned cash helps to keep the banks afloat). There ain’t no such card. If you have a few hundred bucks to spend on something so improbable, there’s a scammer someone who’ll gladly relieve you of it and no doubt will feel quite justified in doing so.