By now, we all recognize that we haven’t inherited sums of $4.5 million from Dr. Mohammed in Nigeria, despite an email informing us otherwise.

Once considered a clever ploy that even inspired a Dateline NBC investigation, such emails, today, are easily recognizable and are, quite frankly, laughable.

But, other scams aren’t as obvious. Cyber crooks have grown wiser.

These evildoers are now crafting Internet scams specifically for the HVAC industry. For example, Kevin Loud, vice president of operations, Loud Brothers Inc., in Glenview, Ill., recently received an email requesting purchase information on various HVAC equipment. Loud, acknowledging that this was likely a scam, responded, seeing just how much information he could collect from the buyer.

The sender, a female by the name of Nana Kremo, was requesting "a 4-ton 410-A 13 Seer condensers, a 4-ton 410-A coil, and a 50-foot 7/8 lineset." She offered a Jacksonville, Fla., address, which, upon a quick check with a Florida assessor, revealed an owner of another name. And, the phone number she listed had been linked to numerous online complaints.

Loud noticed immediately that the request followed in the footsteps of a hoax that famously struck the glass industry several years back. In the glass industry cases, individuals emailed about products, offered to buy the equipment, and then requested that the items be shipped a long distance (typically across the country). The buyer insisted the seller utilize a specific shipping company (who was likely in on the scam), and provided a stolen credit card number. If the crook was without a credit card number, he or she would typically offer a stolen or faulty check or money order. Of course, the check/credit card payment never arrived, and the company -- if foolish enough to ship the merchandise -- was forced to eat the costs.

You may think you'd never fall for such a trick, but these predators are mental assassins, trained to pry on human emotions and blindspots. The folks at Loud Brothers, and those in the glass industry, are not alone. Have you been targeted by these swindlers? Do you know of an HVAC-specific online hoax that needs to be exposed? If so, please share your story with business management editor Matt Bishop,, who is busy crafting a story on the topic right now.