Red Flags to look for:
1) Look at the email address
Real banks, government agencies, loan companies, lotteries and legitimate businesses DO NOT use free email services such as gmail, Yahoo, hotmail, mail.com or the many versions of free email accounts.
Scammers that do take the time to either disguise (or "spoof") their email headers or use a hacked email address will still tell you somewhere in the body of the email to use a completely different email address when replying. The address they usually want you to reply to will be a free email account.
2) Look at the English (or your language) & grammar of the email
Most spammers use horrible English, grammar and punctuation. For other languages, they simply use a translator which we all know are not 100% perfect. Such details like this certainly wouldn't be missed by any reputable agent, banker, lawyer, secretary and so on and so forth.
3) The name of the people can also give them away
Scammers, especially out of West Africa, often don't understand naming conventions used by most countries that have "first name" and "last name" and will tend to use two first names, two last names or a combination female/male names. Examples might be John Michael, Jessica Mary, a woman named Bob or a man named Jane. I'm not meaning to offend anyone that may have the names I've just mentioned, I'm just pointing out that this is a red flag within scam emails.
4) Ask yourself why a stranger would email you offering you money
Not that you aren't a remarkable person, but if you had a $5M inheritance sitting in a bank in another country would you just wake up one morning and decide that you would share it with someone in yet another country that you've never even heard of?
5) Do your research
If it sounds too good to be true, then it is. Sadly, too many people don't take the time to do a quick internet search on the email address, company name or person's name until after it's too late. Always take a minute to search! There are many sites, much bigger then the blog you're on right now, that do nothing but collect scammer information and feed it to Google to let people know that they are scammers.
If you have already been in contact with a scammer, if they do any of the following, it is definitely a scam and you should STOP all contact with them immediately.
- If they ask you to send money through Western Union, Ria or Moneygram to another person, in another country (or sometimes even in the same country) know that:
A: Reputable companies DO NOT demand payment this way
B: The military DOES NOT demand payment this way
C: Employment agencies DO NOT demand payment this way
- If they ask you to email them your private information or banking details know that:
A: Banks will NEVER ask for your banking information in the form of an email because it is NOT secure and they themselves carry warnings posted in physical branches as well as websites telling you that they do not ask for your information in this way
B: If you have been contacted by your "supposed" bank asking for these details, why would they do that? It's your bank and they already have these details.
C: Reputable companies or agencies would also NEVER ask you for your details through the email