My brief encounter with the Nigerian or '419' Scam
Now it's Monday evening, the 25th June, the day before the deadline of this
issue of Alive! mag. So I get home in the evening, and among the handfulls
of other, more harmless(?) spam and junkmail, I find this...
REQUEST FOR YOUR UNRESERVED ASSISTANCE
This letter may come to you as a surprise but it wasborn out of my sincere
desire to share a mutualbusiness relationship with you. First, your
strictest confidence in this transaction is highly solicited.This is by
virtue of its nature as being utterly confidential and top secret. I am a
top government official with a statutory corporation and member of an adhoc
committee set up by the Federal Government of Nigeria to review contract
awarded by past administration.
In the course of identifying, srcutinising and recommending for the payment
of all valid contract executed, we discovered a huge sum of money amounting
to USD41.5M (Forty One Million five Hundred Thousand US Dollars) on grossly
over invoiced contract already awarded and exccuted for the Nigerian
National Petroleum Corporation. Having cleaned the AUGEAN STABLE we intend
to transfer the balance of USD41.5M presently floating in our apex bank
ofNigeria to our own benefit and advantage.
However, we request for your unwavering assistance in this regard because as
civil servants we are prohibited under the civil service code of conduct
bureau from operating aforeign account or running a foreign company unless
after retirement in this vain we want you to front for us as partner to
enable us lodge the funds speedily into your account. Bear in mind that no
risk is attached to this project and all logistics are in place and
modalities worked out for the smooth conclusion within a stipulated time.
This is in accordance with the fact that you mustnever betray the trust
already reposed on you.We have decided to compensate you with 30% of the
total sum for your support, 60% for us while 10% for miscellaneous expenses
(local and international). Please,provide your confidential phone and fax
number to enable me contact you for further discussion on this matter.Please
advise in your return e-mail if any time is confidential enough to call you,
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Best regards, Dr.Frank Tanko.
Wow! I got my own personal fortune, it's just in a difficult to get place in
Africa, now why didn't I hear about this before, and why me? It all looks a
little bit implausible, and straightaway, I'm suspicious on the principle of
"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!"
Then I remember reading something about this a while ago, it has turned up
in one of the consumer protection bits of the newspapers. The general
consensus there, was that this sort of email was a very very bad thing, with
all sorts of dire consequences if you took up their "offer".
So memory of this inspired me to reply thus:-
Erm, rather not thanks!
The 'Nigerian Oil Money Scam' is widely known by now, to the extent of
appearing in the print media of a number of countries. Indeed, I'm slightly
insulted as I seem to have got a copy of this widely circulated email, some
time after it has become old news.
Now if you were writing to me when this was all fresh and new, who knows
what levels of stupidity combined with greed, that you may have inspired? I
could have looked forward to helping out with demands for ever increasing
sums of money to meet your various miscellaneous "expenses". I would have
enjoyed making trips (at my own expense) with more sums of money, to meet
your representatives on the other side of the world. I know I would have
never ever seen a cent of the twenty percent of forty one million dollars,
but hey, the fun is not in the alleged monetary gain, it's in taking part in
all of this!
But this is not to be...
In fobbing me off with an old, tired, and frankly lame attempt to engage my
greed and stupidity, you have achieved exactly the opposite effect, a
hardening scepticism. I'm sure you've noticed a little bit of sharpness in
the overall tone of my reply.
Now with a couple of minutes thought, I've come up with my own scenario to
force money from the pockets of an unwilling population. Try this for size!
~~~~~Martian Gold for Free!~~~~~
You have to believe this! Martians are living on Earth, and have been
accepted as ordinary citizens and members of our government for a number of
Yes, it is true about Roswell, they did cover it up, but the truth is even
more remarkable than fiction!
For the Martians have their own systems for living, and their own
manufacturing, quite removed from any earthly technology. Now we can reveal
for the first time, that a by-product from this manufacture, is a yellow
metal, produced in near-limitless qyantities. This metal is of no worth to
the Martians, but you may know of it with the human word "gold"!
Yes, there are literally mountains of gold, at a secret location, sitting
there for the taking! All you can carry away with you.They don't want it,
they have no use for it!
If you are interested, we will reveal the co-ordinates of the secret
location. To show that you are willing to keep this secret, please send
$10,000 to assist them with their ongoing storage costs.
Contact me by return email, with bank account/credit card details if
Frank the Martian.
Now at least my attempt at stupid people baiting is halfway funny.
So long, and thanks for all the gratuitious amusement.
P.S. I've got the broad outline of how this works, but I'm hazy on some of
the detail. Are you guys anything to do with organised crime, or is this
strictly an over-hopeful one-man band outfit?
ZETNET SUPPORT NOTE:- For the good of all your customers, please make sure
the source of this email is blocked, and the sender reported to the
I think he's been told ;-)
Anyway, I fired up Google, good old Google, we'd be a lot more information
poor without it, tapped in the keywords "Nigerian" and "Scam", then slid
with a loud plop, under the waves of websites dedicated to exposing the
Nigerian or '419' scam phenomonen.
From a very quick investigation, it seems to me that there are more
variations on the basic theme, then there are living Nigerians!? It also
turns out that this has even predated the internet. There has been a
snailmail based version of this going for years. It has been suggested that
a lot of the more corrupt members of the Nigerian Elite have used this scam
to help enrich themselves. As an extreme worst case, people have gone to
Nigeria to meet some of these scam-merchants, under the illusion that they
were closing the deal, and turned up dead afterwards, or have still yet to
This excerpt from the FraudAid.com website is a concise introduction to the
fine art of scamming, Nigerian style.
Not all scams referred to as "Nigerian" are currently emanating from
Nigeria. They are not only international in scope, but can be deadly. These
particular schemes are called "Nigerian" because that is where they
originated. There is ample evidence that the scam is being perpetrated by
swindlers worldwide. 419'ers are located in England, Canada, Asia, and
throughout Europe and the U.S.
Four-One-Nine is the Nigerian criminal code for a scam that is not only
widespread but deadly. One receives an unsolicited email, snail mail, or fax
stating that millions of US dollars need to be removed from Nigeria (or some
other country, usually in Africa) and you have been selected by government
or banking officials to assist.
Naturally, you will be amply rewarded for the assistance by retaining a
percentage of the funds transferred; however, in order to facilitate the
procedure your financial assistance is required up front.
Victims beaten or killed.
The unfortunate side-effect of this scam occurs when the victim is lured
into meeting with the fraudsters, many of whom are in this country, maybe
even just down the street from the victim.
Sometimes luring the victim into handing over all their money (or at least
an overwhelming portion of their savings) isn't enough - there have been
instances of victims who have gone to Africa to meet with the supposed
Nigerian officials, only to end up mugged, badly beaten, and even dead. The
victim's cash and credit cards are taken (to be sold on the international
market), and anything whatsoever of value is ripped from the victim's
Or missing: Graves in the jungle?
And then there is this from the U.S. Secret Service site
"Victims are almost always requested to travel to Nigeria or a border
country to complete a transaction. Individuals are often told that a visa
will not be necessary to enter the country. The Nigerian con artists may
then bribe airport officials to pass the victims through Immigration and
Customs. Because it is a serious offense in Nigeria to enter without a valid
visa, the victim's illegal entry may be used by the fraudsters as leverage
to coerce the victims into releasing funds. Violence and threats of physical
harm may be employed to further pressure victims. In June of 1995, an
American was murdered in Lagos, Nigeria, while pursuing a 4-1-9 scam, and
numerous other foreign nationals have been reported as missing."
Copyright 2000, 2001, 2002 Annette M. McGuire, FraudAid.com
Don't have nightmares now!
CiH, For Alive! Mag,June 25th 2002. Last minute or what!