Attention! Financial scam targeting Less Wrong users

Re­cently, mul­ti­ple sus­pi­cious user ac­counts were cre­ated on Less Wrong. Th­ese ac­counts don’t post any con­tent in the fo­rum. In­stead, they are used only to send pri­vate mes­sages to the ex­ist­ing users.

Many users have re­ceived a copy of the same mes­sage, but differ­ent var­i­ants ex­ist, too. Here are the ex­am­ples I know about. If you have re­ceived a differ­ent var­i­ant, please post it in a com­ment be­low this ar­ti­cle:

Hi good day. My boss is in­ter­ested on donat­ing to MIRI’s pro­ject and he is won­der­ing if he could send money through you and you donate to miri through your com­pany and thus ac­cel­er­taing the value cre­ated. He wants to use “match dona­tions” as a way of donat­ing thats why he is look­ing for peo­ple in com­pa­nies like you. I want to dis­cuss more about this so if you could see this mes­sage please give me a re­ply. Thank you!

hi. ive made 500k+ the last half year on es­port bet­ting and i can show proof. i was a great poker player be­fore that so i have rea­son to be­lieve i am good and well­suited at this. i want to offer free ed­u­ca­tion to one of the efw peo­ple that have their pri­ori­ties straight in this world and will work to­wards min­imis­ing ex­is­ten­tial risk. the higher in­tel­li­gence the bet­ter. ul­ti­mately i would like to offload some work to some­one be­cause cur­rently i am get­tin gquite a bit burnt out and i would like to study fi­nance, and hav­ing some­one take ad­van­tage of the in­cred­ible in­effe­cien­cies in this area is of huge im­por­tance. i would like to dis­cuss this with some­one and how to make it real, and have ex­change of thoughts on all of the as­pects on how to best do it. i can post proof and make dona­tions to miri to show im se­ri­ous so that we or some­one else could have a dis­cus­sion about it

I don’t know yet about any­one who replied and got scammed, so this is all based on in­di­rect ev­i­dence. If you got scammed, please tell me. If you are ashamed, I can pub­lish your story anony­mously. Your story could help other po­ten­tial vic­tims.

Most likely, the scheme is the fol­low­ing:

  1. The scam­mer will send you money.

  2. Then they will ask some of the money back be­cause they changed their mind, or they mis­tak­enly sent you more than they wanted, or their fi­nan­cial situ­a­tion sud­denly changed, or what­ever.

  3. After re­ceiv­ing the money from you, they will flag the origi­nal trans­ac­tion as a fraud, so they get back the money they origi­nally sent you, plus the money you sent them back. Then they dis­ap­pear, or it will turn out they used a stolen iden­tity, etc.

(Thanks to Chris­ti­anKl for ex­plain­ing the sys­tem in the Open Thread.)

If you replied to the origi­nal mes­sage and now you are already in the mid­dle of the pro­cess, please in­form your bank as soon as pos­si­ble! Even if the step 2 didn’t hap­pen yet, so you can still get out with­out los­ing money, warn­ing your bank about the scam­mer could help other po­ten­tial vic­tims.

Warn­ing: If you have already re­ceived a check or a pay­ment con­fir­ma­tion, and some­one is ask­ing you to send the over­pay­ment back quickly, do not send any­thing. The check or the pay­ment con­fir­ma­tion is fake, and the goal is to make you send money be­fore you find out. (Thanks to qsz for ex­plain­ing.)