4 Invaluable Lessons From Email Scammers


Share on LinkedIn

Have you ever received an email like this?

When the post below arrived in my inbox, I didn’t recognize the sender’s name but I still scanned the message in my preview screen. Here’s what it said:


This guy has another list that includes contact info. Thought it might help.


— Original Message–

From: Thomas
To: Angela Spenser
Subject: Illinois new car dealer decision makers


Did you get your no-cost copy of the Illinois new car dealers? They are all on this weeks complimentary auto dealer list that includes decision-maker contact information.

How can you get your copy of this list in Excel format and give your staff some relief from cold calling? It’s easy. Just go to FreeAutoDealerList and get your copy today.

Thanks in advance for your time,


The whole thing is a total scam, masquerading as a nice note to me from a friend. But here are four lessons we can learn from this.

1. Informality puts you at ease.

When people talk with you as if you’re a trusted colleague, you drop your guard. This enables their message to sink in without barriers. 

If that’s the case, think about what happens to your prospects if/when you use the opposite? Typically slick marketing copy, sales gobbledygook and pretentious SIG files cause people to raise their guard. They feel you trying to sell them.

2. Questions pull you in.

When the fake original sender writes “Did you get your no-cost copy …?”, it automatically engages you. Your brain can’t resist a question. Did you notice how I started this article? 

3. Simplicity gets you to act.

When you feel that taking action won’t require a lot of time or effort, you’re more likely to respond positively. In my upcoming book, SNAP Selling, I focus on numerous ways you can simplify the buying process to keep things moving along.

4. Scamming destroys credibility.

When people feel that they’ve been tricked, they won’t do business with you – no matter how good your offering might be. 

So as you can see, even slimy salespeople can help us become better at our jobs! The scammers who wrote this email were brilliant. If I were actually in their target market, I’m sure I would have fallen for it.

Way down at the bottom, they even included a disclaimer as required by law. Here they even admit what they’re actually doing.

This is an informative/promotional message delivered to you by a third party, elistman. If you wish to abstain from similar messages, please make us aware here or by regular snail mail at 707 E. Cervantes St. Pensacola, FL 32501. Thank you for your time.

But I won’t respond. They’ll never remove me from their list! After all,
they’re full of deception and lies – scammers, at heart. 

Republished with author's permission from original post.


  1. Hi Jill: Great points. I’ll add one more from a great book I just finished, Charlatan, by Pope Brock: tap into worry, fear, one-upsmanship, narcissism, etc. (the list goes on). The book describes the exploits of one of history’s greatest scammers, John Brinckley. His massive dishonesty was made possible by his undeniable mastery of exploiting human weakness. If he were alive today, I’m sure he’d have crafted a potent social media campaign or two . . .


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here