Social engineering is one of the most popular methods by which unscrupulous individuals can defraud people of their money. At the prospect of big money, people would do anything. Because almost everyone has e-mail these days, scams are ever so prevalent. Among the more well-known ones are the 419 scams, which are also called "Nigerian" scams because most of these originate from Nigeria and possibly other countries in Africa.
The basic premise of e-mail bank scams is that you will get a message from someone who claims to have a big sum of money he needs to transfer offshore and will need your help. Or they could be allegedly interested in opening a business in your country, but need a partner. The amount could be in the millions, and anyone receiving such a request might be easily enticed. However, once you reply, the person on the other end will be requesting all sorts of concessions, such as asking for copies of your passport and IDs, and asking for bank account information. Then they will also ask for small amounts of money, which would supposedly be for processing fees, to bribe officials, and the like. Before you know it, you would've already sent thousands of dollars in these "fees."
Send them to the spam folder. The best way to deal with e-mail scams is to never, ever reply to the sender. Once you respond, the spammers will know that your e-mail address is an active one, and they will then share your address with other spammers and scammers as well. Then, you might actually just ignore these e-mails, and send these to your spam folder. Most webmail providers have a "spam" button that you can click to automatically send messages to the spam bin.
Once you click "spam" the e-mail does not just go to the spam folder, but the webmail provider will already gather information about the sender, subject line and content, and will include these in their filtering technology, so that the next time the e-mail provider receives such messages, these will automatically be sent to spam.
Write the IC3 if you are overly concerned about spammers sending scam e-mail to your account. You can file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (or IC3) of the FBI. While the FBI does not usually have jurisdiction over scammers that are located outside of the United States, the IC3 will coordinate with anti crime organizations throughout the world for help in pursuing possible criminal and civil cases against scammers. The IC3 also handles cases of copyright theft, theft of trade secrets, extortion and money laundering.
Write to your e-mail provider and to your bank. While clicking the spam button may already report the problem automatically to your e-mail provider, you can also be more send them direct feedback about the spam, so they can take more proactive in dealing with other, similar e-mails. You can also contact your bank or your online banking provider (such as PayPal).
Help spread the word against spam. Again, the best way to deal with scam e-mail is not to respond to them. However, most people still forward chain mails of hoaxes, such as e-mails that promise to give you a prize when you forward the message to a certain number of friends. Even if you ignore these messages, your friends and colleagues might still be replying to these scam e-mails, or they might be forwarding these. So apart from reporting scammers to the IC3, your bank and your e-mail provider, whenever someone forwards you a similar message, inform that person of the likelihood of that being spam.
Spam is a big problem. And it's big business to fraudsters, too, adding to the difficulty of dealing with it. But if you are proactive, and if you are aware, you can help deal with e-mail scams by ignoring these and reporting to the authorities.