In recent years, a new email scam has surfaced, taking advantage of the name of a well-known figure in the tech world, Ron Conway. The scam is especially deceptive because it uses Conway’s real-life accomplishments and philanthropic endeavors to give it an air of credibility.
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Who is Ron Conway?
Before we dive into the scam itself, let’s establish who the real Ron Conway is. Conway is a respected angel investor and philanthropist, known for his early investments in tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Twitter. He is the founder of SV Angel, a San Francisco-based investment firm, and he’s also well-known for his philanthropic efforts, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Scam Explained
The Ron Conway email scam involves an email that is supposedly from Conway himself. The message starts with a brief introduction of Conway and includes links to his Forbes profile and a Business Insider article about him. It then moves on to share a narrative of Conway’s life and achievements, recounting his successes and charitable endeavors.
After sharing his backstory, the email takes a turn. The sender, purporting to be Conway, explains that he has decided to do more direct philanthropy and intends to give money to “lucky individuals” contacted through their email addresses. To receive this money, the recipient simply needs to provide their name and address.
The email ends by reiterating Conway’s commitment to philanthropy and his continued work with SV Angel.
Here is how the Ron Conway email scam looks:
Hi, I am Ron Conway. If you have never heard about me, today you will. Below are links from Forbes and Business Insider about me.
I’ve spent the better part of nearly 50 years working and investing in tech companies, supporting extremely talented and dedicated founders, for which I am very proud and grateful. These founders are to be commended for their successes: creating a large number of jobs, and technologies that we use every day to make life and work more productive, and our world more connected.
Success is not just what you build, it’s how you give back.
After my first company, Altos Computer Systems, went public in 1982, Gayle and I became co-founders of the Altos Foundation, which pioneered support for domestic violence shelters and preventative efforts. We also began donating locally, initially to our kids’ schools, and then to Bay Area children’s hospitals.
SV Angel was fortunate to be an early investor in Google. The day our Google investment first became liquid, half went directly to charitable commitments — not to a personal foundation or donor advised fund sitting on investments for years, waiting for direction. As my successes grew, my charitable commitments have grown and today.
As I have grown older in age, I decided that rather than give money to many worthy charities, I challenged myself to create an organization that actually delivers results. The same skills I used to create highly effective companies would be required for this next chapter of my life.
My personal inspiration has been Chuck Feeney, one of the most impactful business leaders of the past century. After building his business, Chuck, co-founder of Duty Free Shoppers, founded Atlantic Philanthropies and gave away 99% of his over $8B fortune over 40 years.
Chuck, is the blueprint for a successful technology founder to become a “never-billionaire.”
The purpose of this long boring letter to you is very straightforward, Going forward, I decided my philanthropy will be more direct, I have directed $500 Million towards this cause, I intend on contacting lucky individuals using their email address and giving them money.
I am a tech guy and this is the way I see philanthropy trending. Every email address ever opened belongs to somebody somewhere in the world, You have received this email now you are part of my journey.
Provide your name and address and I will contact you again on how you will be paid.
I am a proud “never-billionaire.” I continue to pursue high growth investments with SV Angel and I will be directing nearly all future gains directly to philanthropy.
Why It’s a Scam
This email, despite its seeming authenticity, is a scam. The first red flag is the unsolicited nature of the message. Legitimate philanthropic organizations or individuals typically don’t send out unsolicited emails promising large sums of money to random individuals.
Secondly, the request for personal information is suspicious. Scammers often use this tactic to gather personal details, which can then be used for identity theft or other fraudulent activities.
The vague promise of money, without any clear criteria for selection or a specific process outlined, is also a hallmark of email scams. Authentic philanthropic efforts are usually transparent about their processes and criteria for selecting beneficiaries.
How to Stay Safe
If you receive an email like this, do not respond or provide any personal information. It’s important to remain vigilant and skeptical of unsolicited emails promising large sums of money. Always verify the sender’s identity, and if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
If you’re unsure, you can always reach out to the organization or individual mentioned in the email through their official contact channels to verify the communication.
Remember, scams like these prey on hope and goodwill, using the names of respected individuals or organizations to lend credibility to their schemes. Stay informed, stay skeptical, and stay safe.