Of course, this raises a hundred red flags, but I was wondering, assuming:

  • I don't have Western Union account, and would need to make one for this transfer
  • He does not personally ask me for my personal details/I do not give them on his request. (This does not include, for example, a website he sets up for the transfer asking me for my details)
  • He does not personally ask me to send any money back/I do not attempt to send it back on his request. (This does not include, for example, him sending me an official looking email posing as the bank, asking for me to pay mystery fees)

What are the ways this scam could still go wrong?

(I talk in first person hypothetically, this is happening to a friend of mine)

EDIT: This is a similar but different question to the duplicate proposed.

That question asks: If one is sent money as part of a scam, then asked to send it back, how would a scam play out?

I instead ask: If one is sent money as part of a scam, but is not asked for the money back (nor for any personal details) by the sender, how would a scam play out?

Albeit, this isn't reflected heavily in the answers.

  • 6
    just look at all the questions with the tag of scams. There are many ways they can do it. The key is that they convince the victim that they are real and that the money is free. How the scam progresses from there is not very important... Oct 6, 2016 at 10:31
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    Aha free money. The world is full of people offering free money.
    – DumbCoder
    Oct 6, 2016 at 10:55
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    @mhoran_psprep This is the fundamental comment - the technical means by which you might be scammed, can change frequently. It is possible that the way a scam works in one instance, won't work in another. The key point is that regardless, you know this is a scam because money doesn't grow on trees. Accepting that something is too good to be true can be enough of a reason to know it is a scam. Trying to understand the mechanics beyond that point is a risky endeavor, as you may overlook a potential area of risk. Oct 6, 2016 at 16:38
  • @mhoran_psprep Thank you for your answer/ The progression is a very useful thing to observe. Oct 7, 2016 at 9:25
  • @Grade'Eh'Bacon Thank you. I understand that the technical means can change over time. I mainly wanted to be certain that some existed that I could not easily think of on the fly. Being able to show my friend that there are some ways it could go wrong that she had not yet predicted and would not have prevented even if treading carefully would have given her reasonable doubt to believe there could be others, and thus to judge the decision too risky. It wasn't about dodging the risks, but I appreciate your comment nonetheless. Oct 7, 2016 at 9:28

3 Answers 3


how are the ways he could scam me?

There are hundreds of different ways the scam can progress ... broadly;

  • Getting you to part money: The next steps would be money is transferred and you need to pay tax / stuck in customs / fee etc to get this free money.
  • Getting you to launder money: i.e. you send something back by keeping a percentage. Apart from it being illegal, it could also involve terrorist financing, drug financing and unless proven innocent you are party to crime. The further variation to this could be one large amount that never turns up and you end-up parting money believing you got your share for so long so nothing can go wrong.
  • Getting you recruit more: Since you believe in this free money, it may add authenticity and you would recruit your friends. The scammer would then make more from them. The money to you is his investment.
  • Identify Theft: Convincing you to part with some personal identification, this can be very scuttle and over a period of time and one may not realize the amount of details given.
  • Trojan Link: A link is sent saying see your payment confirmation. On click it would install virus on your computer / smart phone. From then on everything you do is compromised and even otherwise your machine can be used to launch further attacks.
  • Not subtle at all: they are asking for your account number. Identity theft starts right there.
    – keshlam
    Oct 6, 2016 at 16:40
  • Brilliant answer! Offered something different to the usual points about laundering (which requires someone to actively send money back, thus as long as you don't do that, you're not deterred from trying) and identity theft. This and Octoplus's answer pretty much give me all I need. Thank you! Oct 7, 2016 at 9:21
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    @keshlam, I would consider it the norm to give your account number out to someone who is trying to pay you money. A reasonable thing to ask if this circumstance were genuine. Oct 7, 2016 at 9:22
  • @Mathmagician: I maybe old-fashioned, I may be overly concerned because a gambling site is inherently more suspect, I may be cynical in suspecting that even if legit their real goal is to make it Entirely Too Easy for the gambler to toss more money in than they would otherwise... But this particular case worries me. Your mileage will vary.
    – keshlam
    Oct 7, 2016 at 12:36

The first question I have to ask is, why would your "friend" even be considering something so ridiculous? There are so many variations of the banking scam running around, and yet people can't seem to see them for what they are -- scams.

The old saying "there's no such thing as a free lunch" really comes into play here. Why would anyone send you/your friend $3,000.00 just because they "like you"? If you can't come up with a rational answer to that question then you know what you (or your friend) should do -- walk away from any further contact with this person and never look back!

Why? Well, the simple answer is, let's assume they DO send you $3,000.00 by some means. If you think there aren't strings attached then all hope is lost. This is a confidence scam, where the scammer wins your trust by doing something nobody would ever do if they were trying to defraud you. As a result, you feel like you can trust them, and that's when the games really begin.

Ask yourself this -- How long do you think it will be (even assuming the money is sent) before they'll talk you into revealing little clues about yourself that allow them to develop a good picture of you? Could they be setting you up for some kind of identity theft scheme, or some other financial scam? Whatever it is, you'd better believe the returns for them far outweigh the $3,000.00 they're allegedly going to send, so in a sense, it's an investment for them in whatever they have planned for you down the road.

PLEASE don't take the warnings you get about this lightly!!! Scams like this work because they always find a sucker. The fact that you're asking the question in the first place means you/your "friend" are giving serious thought to what was proposed, and that's nothing short of disaster if you do it.

Leave it be, take the lesson for what it's worth before it costs you one red cent, and move on.

I hope this helps.

Good luck!

  • Thank you for your answer Daniel. I feel like you don't believe me, but this really is happening to my friend! I don't think she should do it at all, as soon as I researched into it and saw a number of ways it could go wrong, I decided against it. "Too good to be true" became "plainly untrue". Oct 7, 2016 at 9:15
  • However, since she did not see the same material I did, I couldn't convince her past giving her something to think about. So I came here to find answers that would convince her. Something that explains the mechanics of little tricks he could use that she couldn't counter even if she successfully withheld all information about herself from him directly, and didn't initiate any payments back to him. Thank you for your input! I will show her all of these. Oct 7, 2016 at 9:15
  • But why not just close the question as a zillion-times duplicate?
    – Fattie
    Oct 8, 2016 at 13:14

It can be a money laundering scheme. The stranger gives you cash for free at first, then proposes to give you more but this time asks you to "spend" a fraction of it (like 80%). So on his side the money comes from a legitimate source.

So you do it because after all you get to keep the rest of it and it is "free" money. But you are now involved in something illegal.

Having money for which you cannot tell the origin is also something highly suspicious. You will not pay tax on it, and the fiscal administration of your country might give you a fine. Customs might also be able to confiscate the money if they suspect it comes from an illegal source.

  • Thank you for your answer, especially the part about no tax payments and getting in trouble with the fiscal administration authority and the fine. And the confiscation! This is all very helpful, thank you! Oct 7, 2016 at 9:17

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