SMOKE: Email To A 419 Scammer
Originally published: 6 April 2004
I was amazed to read on Monday of a Nigerian who was arrested in Wales and found guilty of conspiring in one of the infamous 419 email scams - in fact I think it's the first Nigerian email scammer I've ever heard of whose been arrested for his scam.
The guy was only given 20 months in jail, but the point is that he was caught. That's good news.
In case you don't know - the 419 scam has been around for years and involves you being sent an email by a supposedly high-ranking Nigerian (or other nationality) citizen with a long, involved plot about how they need to store a huge sum of cash in your account for temporary safekeeping.
They tell you that if you help them they will give you a hefty percentage of the money to compensate you for your assistance.
Once you agree to help them (no doubt envisaging how you're going to spend your vast cut of the profits) they suddenly run into difficulties (an official must be bribed, or someone needs to be paid to do the paperwork), and they ask you to send a sum of money to get the process kickstarted.
Since you've already gone this far you obviously don't have a brain in your head and you hand over the amount they ask for. They keep stalling and asking for more money until your accounts are bled dry, or until you start challenging them.
They disappear into the ether, ne'er to be seen again, and then they come down to South Africa and start running drugs in Hillbrow.
Although I'm sure you'd never fall for something so ridiculous, the world is full of gullible people. The very fact that the scam has continued for so many years and in so many different guises is testament to just how successful it is, and many people have lost many millions due to a combination of greed and stupidity.
I've received plenty of these emails in my time, and I decided to turn the tables on one of these 419 scammers. The latest one I received was from one Mr. Frank Ogbuagu, Esq (nogal), so I sent him a mail of my own.
My Dear Mr Ogbuagu,
I am Salif Yusuf Savimbi, son of the late Unita leader Jonas Savimbi, and I would like to apologise in advance for this unsolicited email.
I received your details from the Angolan Humanitarian Aid Foundation in Accra, Ghana, as part of a list of Nigerian internationals concerned with humanitarian projects and I am appealing to you for your help.
I am currently in hiding in South Africa as I was forced to flee my homeland after the death of my father for fear of reprisals by rival political factions who would ensure that the memory of my father not be resurrected through my own political ambitions.
Before my father died he was involved in top-secret negotiations with an emerging third force in Angola (believed to be a consortium of business interests from Germany, Cuba and several of the Baltic states), who paid him and Unita $100,000,000 (ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS) to fund his continued freedom campaign in Angola.
My father was going to use the money to fund a war for the liberation of the Angolan people, but with his death it has meant that the money has remained in a box under the bed of his old room in the compound at Huambo. It's a big box.
This is where you come in, my esteemed humanitarian colleague. That money needs to be routed out of Angola and into a bank account in Nigeria, from where it can be distributed to the appropriate channels in Europe and the Middle East.
A portion will go to Russia for arms purchases, while yet another will be assigned to food aid in advance of the war to come.
And 25 percent of it will be given to you, if we can use your bank account as the halfway house for the money.
Once the money has been distributed (you will be supplied with account numbers into which the transfers must be made) there will be $25-million (TWENTY-FIVE MILLION DOLLARS) left in your account for you to do with as you wish, and as thanks for your help in our hour of need.
Although we are pretty sure that - being a humanitarian - you will try to refuse the money, we will insist that you keep it to fund your future projects.
There are many millions of starving children who are being oppressed in this sad land of ours, and your assistance in our endeavours to free ourselves and our people from the bonds of democratic tyranny would make all the difference to a land starved of human kindness.
There are millions of us awaiting your response, kind sir - don't let the children down.
Salif Yusuf Savimbi
I sent my mail to Ogbuagu and this morning received confirmation from him that he would like to assist our efforts. I mailed him back to tell him there was a problem processing the directive and asked for $100,000 from him to pay off corrupt border guards at Lebombo. An hour later I was $100,000 richer. So I asked for another $100,000 and got that as well.
I waited awhile and he mailed me with an enquiry as to how everything was coming along, and when I got that I hopped onto the first plane headed for the Bahamas, which is where I am writing this article from.
"Uh, waiter? Sorry - could you get me another one of those fine daiquiris? No - the large one. Yes. Thank you."
Sorry - where was I? Oh yes ("Thank you my good man - keep the rest of the thousand-dollar bill as a tip. Not at all, not at all.") - so what this all proves is two things:
1. 419 scammers are stupid, and
2. 419 scammers are not all that stupid after all
It's a confusing thing, so I'll leave you to slave away over it in your airless, cramped cubicle.
All Smoked Out,