Scam of the Day

It’s nice to see a sophisticated scam entering my e-mail box every now and then.  Most e-mail scams – like the medicine and pills emails – seem very straightforward: they ask for your credit card number and (maybe) they will ship you some pills.  If they don’t, you’ll have a heck of a time finding someone to complain to.    And, even if they do ship some pills, who knows what’s in them?

But today’s scam has some nice mathematics in it.  Structurally and linguistically, it uses some of the same false-friend techniques from the previous scam.  The e-mail is cast as an accidentally mis-addressed secret:

Hi donald.
> Please tell me when you will send me your roulette trick?
> You promised you`ll send it few weeks ago  :(
> Thanks in advance.
yo mate, ok I`ll give you my trick but if you give it someone else
I`ll fuckin kill you  :)

At this point, the scammer is hoping you’re thinking “Gosh! a secret from the criminal underworld!”

you know in roulette you can bet on blacks or reds. If you bet $1
on black and it goes black you win $1 but if it goes red you loose
your $1.

Well, he’s ignoring zero and double zero. If the ball ends up in either of those slots, you lose your money.  That’s how the casino makes money!  After all the game were completely even, why would anyone ever run a casino?   So, every 30 or so spins, the casino wins a bit.    But back to the letter:

So I found a way you can win everytime:

bet $1 on black if it goes black you win $1

He’s split those lines apart and put some nice white space around them because he wants you to focus on what happens if you win your first spin.   What happens if you lose is buried in a dense paragraph.   He (or perhaps she, of course!) is hoping your eyes will skip over the difficult details.

now again bet $1 on black, if it goes red bet $3 on black, if it goes
red again bet $8 on black, if red again bet $20 on black, red again
bet $52 on black (always multiple you previous lost bet around 2.5)
if now is black you win $52 so you have $104 and you bet:

$1 + $3 + $8 + $20 + $52 = $84 So you just won $20  :) 

now when you won you start with $1 on blacks again etc etc.

He’s saying that you should always double or triple your bet if you lose. There’s some nice use of typography again: “So you just won $20” is on a line in glorious isolation.

its always bound to go black  eventually (it`s 50/50) so that way
you eventually always win.

It is always bound to go black eventually. In fact, there is nothing at all wrong with the description of the algorithm.   Nothing, except that you might have run out of money and given up in disgust before it goes black again.

Suppose you set yourself a limit of $100 per bet.   What would have happened if that last roll had been red?

You lose $1 + $3 + $8 + $20 + $52= $84, instead of winning $20.

“Oh ho!” I can hear you thinking.   “I’ll just play with a higher limit!” but that doesn’t stop the logic.   Eventually, you’ll get up to your limit, and then you’re risking an even bigger loss.    And there is always a limit somewhere.  Are you going to sell your house so that you can put down just one more bet, if you’ve had a bad string of luck?    And what happens if – with your house riding on it – it still lands on red?

The trouble is, if you do the mathematics, that big loss is large enough to eat up all your previous gains.  Pick a limit and try it with a pencil and paper and coin before you try it with real money.

“Oh ho!” you think again, “If I play with a high limit, the odds of getting 10 or 20 reds in a row are too tiny to worry about.”  Not so.  You’ll find the gains are usually pretty tiny, too.   Most of the time, you start a sequence of bets and you’ll end up just a few dollars ahead.  Occasionally, you’ll hit your limit and you’ll end up thousands behind.   And, of course, you just might get unlucky on the first sequence and lose all your money immediately.

Basically, this algorithm is a way of generating lots of small wins and a few huge losses.  The odds are, if you play long enough, you’ll walk away without any money, right after one of those huge losses.  And don’t forget the zero and double-zero are occasionally popping up, gnawing away at your bank account.

But there`s a catch. If you start winning too much (like $1000 a day)
casino will finally notice something and can ban  you. I was banned
once on royal casino.

“Royal Casino” – as if!

So don`t be too greedy and don`t win more then $200  a day and you
can do it for years.

Well, no. If your limit is about $200 or so, then you can expect a big loss every 55 sequences.   When that happens, you’ll lose about $350.

I think bigger casinos know that trick

And so do most books on probability and statistics. It’s a classic, called the “Martingale”.  According to Wikipedia, it was developed first in 18th century France.   Certainly, it has been studied extensively by mathematicians in the 20th century, and you haven’t noticed a lot of fabulously wealthy mathematicians, have you?

so I play for real money on smaller ones, right now I
play on DELETED for more  then 3 months, I win $50-$200 a day and
my account still works.

A little bit of good old-fashioned lying never hurts on this kind of scam.  But this paragraph is the key.  This whole e-mail is really an advert for the DELETED online casino.

Now, think about it.  Why would a casino advertize a betting system that worked?   Hmm?  Probably they wouldn’t. But they will be happy to advertise if they can take your money whenever the (simulated) roulette wheel ends up on zero or double-zero.

And don`t you dare talling about it anyone else, if too many people
knows about it casinos will finally found a way to block that trick.

Woo! The lure of shared secrets!

If you have any questions just drop me a line here or on skype.

c ya

The missive ends with a final attempt to make it sound like a real e-mail.