Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Scam for the Truly Naive

Ship House
Nigerian Defense Headquarters
Abuja, Nigeria
"Scanning the seas for scammers!"
(Image from Wikipedia)

As with the rest of you, my day doesn't really begin until I'm imbibing my morning coffee and deleting my overnight scam-spam. The latter is usually an automatic, even montonous procedure:
Mark spam that got past filter. Move to spam folder. Check spam folder for nonspam. Move to inbox. Delete remaining spam.
But this morning, I saw in the spam folder an obvious but nevertheless clever scam. Sent to me from 'scam victim', its subject heading shouted:
I laughed and decided to open it, whereupon I found more 'shouting':
Motto: No Body is Above the Law
I have to admit, that's a scary-sounding crimes commission, what with a motto implicitly promising to go after dead criminals! "No body is above the law." Sheds a whole new light on "Wanted: Dead or Alive." I hope this commission isn't after me!

Anyway, there's immediately some more shouting:
FROM THE DESK OF: Chief Mrs. Farida Mzamber Waziri (AIG rtd.)
The EFCC's promise to be at my service is reassuring, as is the following 'information', again shouted out:


The EFCC wants to give me money to the tune of "one-quarter million dollars." Wow. I'm impressed. Like the United Nations was impressed by Doctor Evil's demand for "one million dollars." Ha. Ha. Ha. Listen, EFCC, I want one-hundred billion dollars. Also, I'm not satisfied with the number of exes assigned to me. Why do I have only 5 exes when the EFCC gets 7?

But onward to the letter, which -- having gotten my attention -- stops shouting:
I write to bring to your notice as a delegate from the Nigerian Government Reimbursement Committe under the strict supervision of the United Nations to pay 230 Nigerian 419 scam victims the sum of $250,000 USD (Two Hundred and Fifty Thounsand Dollars) each. You are however listed as one of the beneficiaries for these payments. You are expected to get back to us for your immediate reimbursement.
Wait as second. What sort of numerical figure is a "thounsand"? Is that a typo . . . or some sort of dialect? Or perhaps some oblique term from an obscure branch of mathematics? It sounds suspiciously like a fraction to me. Kind of like "one-thousandth" in American English. Is the EFCC offering me twenty-five cents? Talk about small change! Still:
As a result of this laudable recommedations, you are hereby informed that during the last U.N. meeting held in Abuja, Nigeria, it was alarmed so much by the rest of the world on the loss of funds by various foreigners to the scam artists operating in syndicates all over the world today. In other to redeem the good image of our country, the President has ordered the immediate payment of $250,000 USD each via Bank Draft to the affected victims in accordance with the U.N. recommendations. Due to the corrupt .
I'm also a bit concerned by the expression "in other to redeem." I'm not familiar with that phrase. Is it an idiom? And the message breaks off rather abruptly with "Due to the corrupt" . . . as though some valuable information were about to be imparted. There's even an empty space before the period. But the letter blithely continues in a following paragraph:
Please, you are hereby advised to fill in the below spaces according to how you have been scammed to avoid mix-up

Your Full Names ......................
Your Full Address ....................
Direct Contact Phone Number .......
passport photograph.............................
The EFCC wants my "Full Names"? What does that mean? My full name along with some other full names of mine? Well, my full name is "Horace Jeffery Hodges," but I've been referred to as "Horace Jeffrey Hodges," "Horrace Jeffrey Hodges," and even "Horace Geoffrey Hodges." And sometimes the "s" gets dropped from my surname, leave it the singular "Hodge." Maybe the commission wants all of these. Hmmm . . . the money might begin to add up, after all.

But how do I "fill in" the space for my passport photograph? I'm supposed to describe it? Okay, it looks like me . . . sort of. Actually, it looks more like what I should look like at my advanced age and state of reprobation. Like that painting in Oscar Wilde's scandalous novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. As David Byrne once said, "Passport photos are what people really look like."

But the letter doesn't stop with a request for that rather personal information. It goes on to tell of the EFCC's efforts to hunt down Nigerian scammers:
Many Banks, Universal firms, Companies and individuals have been in bankrupcy today due to the activities of these hoodlums. However, a thorough investigation have revealed that these people have dropped over 500,000 victims across the world, after collecting their money falsely, many as a result of this have committed suicide, while others are now living in abject poverty. As regards these ongoing developmental strive, we have over 200 suspects at hand, 135 in kirikri prisons. While many are awaiting trial, we are still in search of others, who think they are wise, and hope that you will assist by giving any vital information that could lead to the apprehension of these hoodlums.
The scammers "have dropped over 500,000 victims across the world, after collecting their money"? Dropped them? How? From helicopters? Yet, some apparently survived . . . only to commit suicide or live on in abject poverty. These scammers truly are hoodlums. Good to hear that the Nigerian EFCC has 135 of them in . . . "kirikri prisons"? Kirikri, Togo? Why in a neighboring country? But there's more:
You will receive your payment Via bank draft so as to avoid delay. We shall be waiting to hear from you been certain that your response will be that you are satisfied and willing to claim your $250,000 USD (Two Hundred and Fifty Thounsand Dollars) reimbursement funds.
Hmmm . . . there's that "thounsand" again, so it can't be a typo. I guess that it really is some obscure mathematical expression. Anyway, if I want my 'thounsands', I have to respond immediately:
You are to respond immdiately and send a confirmation to the below

Contact Person:

Email: efcccrm58 at
No name given, but there is that email. I wouldn't advise anybody to use it, however. Indeed, I would advise expressly against doing so . . . even though the EFCC is expecting a prompt response:
Finally, we are expecting to hear from you today unfailingly so as to enable us serve you better .

Thank you very much for your anticipated co-operation and understanding.

Frankly Yours,


Chief Mrs. Farida Mzamber Waziri (AIG rtd.)
Executive Chairman Economic and Financial
Crimes Commission (EFCC)
Yada, yada, yada . . . . Well, that provided some unexpected, morning amusement, and I'm now fully awake. These scammers must have realized that people have become aware of the outrageous scams originating in Nigeria, but I have to admire their chutzpah in presenting themselves as officials legally authorized to reimburse people who have already been scammed.

But could anyone possiby be so naive as to fall for a meta-scam of this sort?

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At 7:21 AM, Blogger Le Mc said...

That's a good one!

At 7:54 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

It's even funnier when one imagines some individuals who receive the email and fail to recognize the scam but respond hoping to 'scam' some big money for themselves even though they've not previously lost any money to Nigerian scammers and thus do not 'qualify'.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:16 AM, Anonymous Christopher said...

Since the sender of the letter, Mrs. Farida Mzamber Waziri (AIG rtd), was, by her own admission, a former employee of, or executive with, AIG (American International Group) - a company which, when last I heard, was a Wall Street mendicant asking for an American taxpayer-bailout, we now know, from the missive you received, how these monies will be used, which will be other than to improve the liquidity of AIG, as a financial institution too big to fail.

And why did Mrs Waziri really retire from AIG?

Anyway, should the mainstream media learn that these monies are not to be used as intended, it could cause Barack Obama, as the prime mover behind the bailouts, grave political embarrassment.

So I hope you'll not tell your friends or colleagues of this Nigerian missive, if you have Obama's, and therefore America's, interests at heart.

At 10:45 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Fortunately, Christopher, almost nobody reads my blog, so that danger is remote, but you raise a good point, namely, why would Mrs. Farida Mzamber Waziri want to emphasize her former connection to AIG? It can do nothing to enhance her credibility.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 1:40 AM, Blogger chris said...

Dear Mr. Hodges-

As the Primed Minister of the Republic of Northeast Ohio (Formerly the People's Republic of Northeast Ohio and prior to that the Democratic Union of Northeast Ohio) I am empowered to offer you the sum of two hudnred thounsand dollars if you will provide me the following information.

How can I get a teaching position at a women's university?


At 5:23 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

As a Primed Minister willing to offer "two hudnred thounsand dollars," you are obviously not seeking a position out of financial necessity -- assuming that amount is the same as "two hundred thousand dollars" in name and value.

I believe that if you offer this sum to the committee doing the hiring, you might see some faster results.

Those of us without such funds had to have at least an MA in some program in English teaching or at least an MA in some other field plus experience in teaching English.

If you're interested in teaching at Ewha Womans University, you'll need to apply when they're hiring, which you could probably find out about by checking the Ewha website.

Jeffery Hodges

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