“We have noticed unusual activity on your account,” the email said. “Someone has tried to log into your account from Bulgaria. Please press this link to log in and change your password.”

Hovering over the name of the sender, I could see that this wasn’t an official email. The scammer from Bulgaria had helpfully included a link for me to press so I could protect myself from scammers in Bulgaria!

Schemes such as this one are often diabolically effective. CNBC reported that the “Nigerian Prince” scam alone generated over $700,000 last year. 

It’s always better when a “scammer story” turns out to have a happy ending, like the one involving an email that began, “My name is Joel from Liberia, West Africa. I need some assistance from you.” The man in Ogden, Utah, to whom it was sent responded, “How can I help?” with the intention of distracting Joel from scamming others. These two videos tell the story:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJZ-tI-OL6A

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7d_W3mdCTvs 

What began as a scam turned into a gift for everyone involved. 

It’s wise to be skeptical, but dear God, please keep us from becoming cynical. Seeing beyond a bad first impression takes an open heart and a belief in second chances.