Wikipedia has a good article here
I get plenty of those in my email every 2 weeks or so. Here is one for example:
One email I got. Well cool they know my family name from somewhere...
But hey who is this guy anyway. If we look at his email. it gets clear that he is not from a trusted source, and I don't know him either....
If we open the document up (I don't recommend opening any attached documents, especially from the source you don't know, even if it is from the source you know, be careful it may be infected with virus (run the anti-virus scan first)) I get this text in it:
Please forgive my using this means to reach you but I cant think of any other
way of letting you know the urgent matter at hand. I acted as personal attorney
to (late) Mr.E.Kuznetsov,who lived and worked here for more than twenty years
as a major contractor and businessman.
On the 1st of October 2006, he and his wife and only daughter were involved in
an automobile accident while visiting a neighboring country on vacation . They
were buried two weeks after and I have exhausted all means of reaching who may
have been related to them. This has been made more difficult because no mention
was made of any relative while he was alive.
To the best of my knowledge, before his death, he had an investment deposit
totalling more than Seven Million Five hundred thousand United States
with the major bank here and now they have asked me to
provide a next of kin if there is, or the estate will then revert to the
government and so it would be lost.
My proposal is that you allow to be presented for this role so that
documentation can be processed and payment made in your favour. This is a
project which will see us partner to realise. I would be willing for us to
discuss terms of participation in order to protect our various interests.
I want to assure you right away that I have positioned this deal to not last
for more that two weeks. I shall be willing to discuss futher on this if write
back or send to me your direct telephone number so we can discuss in the type of
confidential atmosphere which this matter requires.
Thanks for your prompt response.
Kindly Contact Me On My Private Email:email@example.com
For More Detail's
Which is of-course the typical scam, when the person tries to get my personal details.
I suggest, that you don't send any details and don't contact him from your email account. They may gather these email addresses to even further send spam or scam emails to you.
There is also one alarming scheme that was kinda widespread in Estonia some time ago.
Basically someone calls you to your phone number, and when you want to answer it, the call drops. You call back immediately but it drops again, again and again. Then you finally realize that you have been calling some strange number in another country. The real surprise is the next phone bill :)
Here are some reports of how people got calls from someone from Africa, the call back costs 60 EEK, not bad.
The good news is that usually Mobile Operators pay back any damages that customers have suffered. But still people should be careful enough.
The other widespread fraud was "PayPal Fraud", right now I am not getting it that much, maybe because it is not effective anymore. But the typical email that person gets, says something like This is PayPal, your account will be terminated due to some activity, please enter your account details to keep the account.
The email message looks valid, even the link when you click on looks like paypal website, the trick is that it looks similar, but it is not paypal website. it may have address something like http://paypal.details.account.ghz.cn in it, but with careful check it is obvious that it is opened on domain ghz.cn.
When user enters his details, he is redirected to original paypal website, like nothing happens, but the actual details are stored by the hijacker, who can use it to withdraw found from the real paypal account. There are hundreds of cases when it has happened.
So again, be careful with your data, and verify what you are doing.