XP - The Essence of the Nigerian Scam
- If you're like me, you get a regular stream of wonderful, generous offers in
your email. Isn't it amazing how many people are dying of cancer, or who
had relatives killed by an African civil war, or who are serving in Iraq and
uncovered Saddam's secret stash - or who just have a business proposition -
and who want to make you very wealthy? I bet there are also a remarkable
number of truly wealthy people dying in the UK who remembered you in their
will, or who discovered that you won the Irish Lottery or some other
gambling event - and just because you don't remember buying a lottery
ticket, that doesn't disqualify you from winning?
I'm amazed, too. All those hundreds of millions of dollars out there, all
intended for you (or me) if only we'd respond to an email.
I know that virtually all of these are legitimate - why else would total
strangers want to give you money? However, a small - vanishingly small -
number are likely to be scams, variations of the old Nigerian scam of the
1980s. And just so you won't get burnt, I'd like to help you discover how
to identify the frauds.
First, if the person tells you that their name is Mr. (or Mrs., or Miss -
but never Ms.) ____, then they are probably not legitimate. Nowhere in the
civilized world do people routinely introduce themselves as Mr. (or Mrs., or
Miss - but never Ms.) Anything - it's archaic. However, Nigeria was a
British colony until the 60s, and their English is still tainted by a kind
of Received British formalism that is 50 years out of date. So if it sounds
archaic and overly formal, it's probably not real.
Next, if they inform you that surely you must be surprised to hear from them
since you've never met, it is reasonably certain that the email is
fraudulent. Real people wanting to give away real money will realize that
the surprise comes in the form of the dollar-value of the offer, rather than
the "surprise" of receiving an unsolicited email from a stranger. We all
get emails from strangers every day - no surprise there - but getting an
offer for $10 million dollars - how often does that happen? If you're like
me, not more than three or four times a week, and every time I'm completely
If the email refers to you as a dear friend or beloved one or any other kind
of endearment, don't trust it. Legitimate business offers of tens of
millions of dollars do not, routinely, include such personal greetings.
After all, business is business, and deals involving giving away big money
is too serious to be clouded by such tender words. This also applies to
appeals to God or the bestowing of Blessings - your average international
John Beresford Tipton doesn't rely on God's Blessing when giving away
mega-bucks. Perhaps they believe that $10 or $25 million is blessing
enough, and God knows that they'd be right in thinking that.
However, if the email is from someone dying from cancer who has a family
full of vultures who will not respect his charitable desires, believe him.
Take his money and give it to your favorite charity (remembering, of course,
that charity begins at home). We all know that people die of cancer and
that relatives are vultures. Help them and grow rich.
If you get an email from someone who's close relative (husband, father,
etc.) was killed in a tribal squabble in central Africa, and who died
leaving many millions of dollars that the surviving relative wants to get
out of the country without attracting notice, believe her. Leaders sitting
on millions of dollars are hacked to death by machetes every day in Africa,
and all have relatives wanting to smuggle the money out of Africa and into
the US. Help them and grow rich.
If you get an email from a sergeant in the US Marine Corps who found one of
Saddam's hidden stashes of ill-gotten loot, and who wants to safely smuggle
the money out of Iraq so the corrupt local regime can't grab it and use it
for nefarious purposes, believe him. Don't automatically trust an Air Force
puke - or an officer - but if you get a sergeant, especially a Marine, you
know that you can trust him. Marines are inherently trustworthy. Semper Fi,
If you get an email from a Barrister in England who has a will to settle -
and who believes that you might be the only surviving relative, believe him.
Everybody knows that lawyers in the UK are called Barristers, and that
they're far more honest than American lawyers. Perhaps they're called
Barristers because Shakespeare wrote that first, we should kill all the
lawyers - but we all know that he meant slip-and-fall ambulance-chasing
shysters from Dallas, not honest Barristers from the UK.
I think that covers it - however, if you know of any other tell-tale
give-aways - clear clues as to whether such an email is legit or not - I'd
like to hear from you. And as soon as I get my millions out of Tikrit and
Lagos, I'll be sure to cut you in on a percentage. Just send me your bank
account number, your ATM pass-code and your social security number and I'll
take it from here.
All the best
Ned Barnett, APR
Marketing/PR Fellow, American Hospital Association
Barnett Marketing Communications
420 N. Nellis Blvd. A3-276
Las Vegas NV 89110
702-696-1200 - ned@...
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