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Alive 5

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...

Dear Sir 


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
years now!

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 
appropriate authorities.

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
turn up!!?

This excerpt from the 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,

Don't have nightmares now!

CiH, For Alive! Mag,June 25th 2002. Last minute or what!

Alive 5